Be a Do-Gooder

Ugh. I really don’t like that word. A “Do-Gooder” just seems bland and cliched. In he same vein, a “goody two-shoes” comes to mind, which I found out last week was an actual person, and now used as a paragon of virtue, an example for others to emulate and point to. Be again, it smacks of cliche and unreality. Real people have bad days, difficult times where they slip. A real human being has real human problems, which seem so unlike the stellar phrases above.

And yet here is this text stating back at us. Do good. Always seek to do good, and do not repay evil for evil. If I may, I understand this to be an instruction to us, do good rather then evil, especially when evil is expected. I am human. Because I am human, I more often am prone to react in anger when threatened or wronged. This comes with a choice. I can choose to react violently and “fly off the handle” or I can choose not to, and do something else. I used to not have that choice. Because before I started to follow Christ and received His Spirit into my life, I didn’t have that check on my temper. But now, however brief a time I experience it, it is there, and my renewed conscience comes back into play, so that I am now conflicted. I want to react in evil, hurting the one who hurt me. I know better. And that has made all the difference. This verse reinforces that which I know to be true, but I still need to hear it. I hope it has helped you today too.

God bless!


Lead On

A simple plea of the Psalmist today for the Lord to rescue him. The Psalmist says he wishes to learn the ways of God and be led by the Spirit onto easy ground, because he’s been in some tough places. The Psalmist wants to live for the Lord, but life has really gotten in the way and he Psalmist pleads for rescue so that he can live for the Lord. Sound familiar?

I don’t know what you are going through today, but I’m sure you can empathize with the writer here. I could live for the Lord if He would just lighten the burden a little, give me a little breathing room. Some days are like that. I am too busy just trying to get through it that I forget that I have a loving God who is watching out for me. Sometimes it feels like He abandons us altogether. It feels like it. It’s like the parent who lets go of the bike so that his child can ride on his own. He is never far, but He lets you try it for a while. We never get tougher if we are always coddled. We need seasons in the crucible so that the dross can be burned away. We don’t like them, but they are designed to focus our attention on Him. God is seasoning us with stress and conflict, so that we will learn not to depend on our own wisdom, but His leading.

We know we need that. We just don’t like the process it takes to get there. No one does. No one enjoys boot camp, but it is a necessary process to take soft civvies and turn them into soldiers. We need the training if we are going to be effective servants. We know this is true, even though we cry out in the midst of it. But know that God is the way through it. Let Him lead.

God bless you today. Remember the struggle is not forever. You will get through this.

Now What?

After a person has come through the waters of baptism and become part of a church, the pressure is off, right? I mean, the whole “come to Jesus” part is the hard part, after living years “like the world” and doing what you please, I mean really, finally becoming a Christian, finally deciding to “put your faith in Jesus” surely is the end of the line, right? Not if this verse has anything to say about it. This verse goes on to say something about sanctification, the process over time that we as Christians gradually become more Christ-like. Rather than go for a static spirituality, Christians are instructed to grow in their faith, to practice their new spiritual gifts and be engaged in their Christian community: to love one another “as I have loved you.” There is no point at which you can say “I have arrived” in Christianity. There is no end-point to which you can say, “I’ve done enough” and rest on your laurels. Christians are ever-growing, ever-reaching for Christlikeness. Becoming a Christian isn’t a goalpost. It’s the kickoff.

Is There Still Mystery?

Well, is there? Arthur C. Clarke is famously quoted along the lines that any technology sufficiently advanced will be labeled magic. And yet, we are approaching God’s advanced technology day by day in our understanding of science. The magic is disappearing by the day. For example, a degree in biology can probably tell you how bones are formed in the womb. In meteorology, you can probably credible explain the path of the wind. Isn’t the “activity” of God just around the corner in theology?

But that’s not the question I want to ask. What I really need to ask is this: do I need the mystery? I don’t presume to ever figure it all out, and I never will. But do I need the mystery to believe in God? Do I need a “god of the gaps” to fill in the holes of the things I can explain by supposing they are God’s will, or, that’s just the way God made it? Does God need to be mysterious to be believed?

I think if we pinned our faith on the idea that there are things we can’t explain or understand, we will find our faith on shaky ground. It is like children who grow up to find out Dad isn’t a superhero, or mom doesn’t know everything. As children we believed these things because our parents were the most powerful beings in our universe. As we matured, we learned they were human after all.

So a faith based on God as he Cosmic Bogeyman, or the Great Magician doesn’t hold up. When we grow up, that’s not what we need from God. In fact, the older I get, the more I need of a God who is in control of the things that I know I can’t. My health, my life’s direction, my work, my family, so many things that as I become aware, I just become overwhelmed by the enormity of the universe. I need a God that who looks after me, who cares about me. Even when things go wrong, or if I suffer, I need the assurance of a God who says, “Fear not. I am with thee.” I need the Divine Presence now more than ever.

I guess I’ve moved from being awed by an unknown universe to an unknown future. I don’t need a God to explain how stars work. I need a God to explain that my work matters. Thank you God for continuing to hold me in awe, even as my knowledge improves, you continually lead me forward to deeper and greater mysteries. Thank you God for looking after me even when my eyes aren’t on you. Thank you for loving me, even when I am not lovable.

Why go to Church just to obey a set a rules?


Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
(2Co 3:17)

Many feel that the Church is a system of rules, or that it is legalistic. Perhaps you’ve thought that mandating Church attendance is a legalistic pursuit. That we should be free to attend as often, or as little as we wish to. The operative word here is “me.” A me-centered faith doesn’t do a whole lot, and ends up being legalistic. The same statement might be applied, “I only need to go to church once a month to be a Christian.” Now who’s being legalistic?

The question again isn’t about what I must do to be saved? That’s well established. It’s, “what must I do to grow in Christ?” When asked that way, we realize the hill is a little steeper. How often should I go to Church in order to grow in Christ? How often should I read my Bible, pray, go to Bible study, witness to my neighbor, in order to grow in Christ? I know that if I don’t do any of those things, I will not grow.

We know that faith in Christ isn’t based a set of rules, but that we often resort to rules to make our conscience comfortable. Abolish the rules you have set in your own life and pursue Christ with abandon. Demonstrate to others that Christianity is the free-est form of living there is, because we have total freedom in Christ.

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.
(Php 4:8-9)