Faith and Works

I just read Amy Okeson Riordan's blog  and it got me to thinking about faith and works.  It is so easy to get caught up doing good works that we completely forget that we serve God because we love Him.  It is really easy to forget that our primary goal is to develop a relationship with Him; everything else is secondary. I grew up in the church, so I’m no stranger to spending long hours in service.  Some of my fondest memories were born at church.  My parents were pretty strict so I didn’t get to go to the movies, bowling, fashion shows, parties, or a whole host of things that young people do; unless of course it was with the church youth group.   I was saved by age 13 and have been in church leadership ever since.

Fast forward to my adulthood, I found myself taking on lots of responsibilities at church.  From choir member to Sunday School teacher to Vacation Bible School Volunteer to Women’s Tea emcee to Chair of the Servant Leaders  to Minister and every odd-job in between.  I remember dragging my family to events or leaving them behind because I “had” to be there.  I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that this was a recipe for burn-out. 

Amy makes a good point in her post Do You Really Know Him.  She says, “You've probably done a lot of "good" things in your life. That's what makes God happy with us, right?  Sure, God likes it when we do "good" things, but that doesn't get us into Heaven. Trusting Him as our Lord and Savior and turning away from our sins are the only things that will make you right with Him.”

With the rise of the New Age movement, I know this isn’t a popular statement.  People want to think that there are many ways to get to God.  But the Bible only cites one -- it’s very clear.  Jesus states, "I tell you the truth, I am the gate for the sheep. All who ever came before me were thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not listen to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full" (John 10:7-10).  Again He says, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6).  We must be saved through faith in Jesus Christ.  Some 'good' people doing 'good' works won't be saved.  I know that it’s not all inclusive.  I know it doesnt sound fair.  I know that some may even find it offensive. But there it is in black and white. 

God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill? Numbers 23:19

It always amazes me how it’s okay to talk about God, which can be replaced with everything from “the man upstairs” to the “universe” but it’s not okay to talk about Jesus.  Part of the problem is that as a society we’ve tried to do things our way.   It’s time to get back to basics.  We have to have faith in God and we have to do the work that He has called us to.  However we have to make sure that we don’t get so caught up in the doing that we forget the person we are doing it for.  Remember what Jesus told Martha when she was frustrated with her sister and complained about being over burned with work?

"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her." Luke 10:41-42

We need to take a look in the mirror and honestly answer this question:  “Have I chosen the better thing?”  If our works are getting in the way of our relationship with Christ, then we need to stop, pray and turn it over to Him so that he can lead us on the right path.

Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6