What Great Work Does God Require of Us?

Rublev_trinity_iconThe way of Christ is a truly radical way of living. Our lives are to rest on two virtues: humility and faith. “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Jesus lived his life, in the moment of each single day, in a radical (radix: meaning at the root) poverty of spirit. He had no agenda except to do the will of his Father. “I do nothing apart from the Father.” “My words are not my own.” “I only do what I see the Father doing.” And, “Though being in very nature God, he did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but emptied himself taking the form of a man.” This is man living to the fullest as God made him without sin. This is man in communion and fellowship with the Father, through the Son and by the Spirit. It is life in the Trinity.

God requires that we abandon our own puny plans and genuinely trust him. We can only begin to do this when we humble ourselves. Such deep humility is a prerequisite to true faith. The disciples once asked Jesus “What must we do to do the works of God?” What a great question. I wonder if you’ve ever honestly asked it. Jesus’ answer is even more amazing: “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” The disciples asked a plural question about “works” here. The answer Jesus gave was singular: “Believe.” But believing is not simply our work. We cannot believe on our own. It is God who works in us to will and to do of his good pleasure. We must believe but we must be also given the grace to believe. This requires a humble asking and seeking. This is why we pray, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief.”

I think this works something like this. We pray that God will help us in the present moment, the only time when we are really and truly alive, to truly live in him. We say, with Paul, that “in all things God works for the good of those who love him.” Really? Are you kidding? No, God is serious. He is the only one who can define what is really good for you and you are the only one who can truly live in him in the present moment accepting everything that happens as having passed through his loving heart into your life. Do I believe that everything, I mean everything, will prove to be for my good in the end?

Humility and belief grow in us as we trust God in this present moment. Do I believe the person am I meeting for lunch today is meeting me because God ordained this meeting? Do I believe writing this blog is God’s will for me today? Do I believe the interruptions I sometimes loathe are also part of his will? And what about the pressure I felt this morning in a difficult conversation with my wife? Was God there too? Are the people he brings to my mind real people and is he working in this process too?

A life of true surrender to Christ is never passive or aimless. I have never understood how anyone could think that following Jesus was passive. God requires of me a great work. I must humble myself before him and believe. I can only do this by his grace. By abandoning myself fully to him I can enter into divine life and thus know the Father, through the Son, in the fullness and power of the Holy Spirit. The is life in the Trinity. Amen.

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