My Grudge is All I Have

This week I am struck afresh by the call of believers to pursue reconciliation. Now we are not given a task by God to earn salvation or even an increased measure of favor, but rather because we have first been reconciled. We love because we have been loved.

It is a glorious order of operation for all of life. We are free to live with mercy, grace, and a starkly unique care for others, no matter how far from deserving it they are. All because we were further from it than them yet Christ loved us and gave himself up for us.

Still it is a regular occurrence that I want to cling to my displeasure with people over the invitation to surrender that to Jesus. Living days on end like my grudge is all I have to hold onto. To that tendency Jesus gently reminds us through his word and the community of believers that he is what we have to hold onto and he is far better than any grudge or revenge I could cook up.

When I want to “get even” the Spirit says that Jesus already has, he has balanced the scales for our good and his glory.

Now we walk that out. Living to build bridges. To love the least. To love the unlovely. Because we have been loved. Because we have been reconciled. Because we have been brought in.

Let’s go.

The Hit of a Finished Task List

A month ago I started using a new planner. It promised increased productivity and goal setting. I suppose it has been helpful. The first day I used its system of planning and executing I felt super efficient and accomplished. The high has worn off by now but I still love a finished task list.

The feeling of finishing what the day required. The burden of responsibilities lifted as they are handled ahead of schedule. The freedom on the other side of the lists action items.

Funny thing is that I set the list. I generate the tasks so how hard I work, or the amount of “productivity” is determined at my whim. Some days are easier to feel accomplished!

But when the list comes to an end there is a hit of success. Sure there is some chemical reason, maybe dopamine or something. The sense of relief of coming to the end. It feels good.

I wonder if this is why we are so list oriented when it comes to things best lived without a list. Like relationships and faith. In both we think we need to accomplish a set of items to earn love or approval. And I suppose that makes sense to an extent. But who wants to live a “love” relationship where everything is tit for tat? Transactional relationships miss the good stuff, the unconditional stuff.

Same thing in relationship to Jesus. i am convinced he will love me more if I finish this list of discipleship tasks, or if my church is bigger (my struggle), or if I share the gospel with at least three people a day… you know your list. And it gives us a hit of self righteous accomplishment but it misses the good stuff.

I want to dwell in the unconditional more because that is what I see when I encounter Christ in Scripture. Redemption received not because we finish a list, but because he loves. It’s true for you too.

So set your task list for the day, and maybe make one item to “enjoy the grace of Jesus today” knowing that he accomplished the list required for eternity, for life with God.

Necessity of Love in Fellowship

Studying this week the close of 1 Corinthians in chapter 16:12-24. Paul encourages the church to stand firm and to do everything they do in love. This is to be the community of believers, the church, local and global in love.

Martin Luther profoundly wrote how amazing this community of love can be, as our reward, in his Sacrament of the Body of Christ.

“True fellowship is divine and heavenly; it is the noblest, surpassing all the others as gold surpasses copper or lead; it is the communion of the saints, in which we all are brothers and sisters, so near to one another that greater nearness could never be conceived. For there is one baptism, one Christ, one sacrament, one meal, one gospel, one faith, one Spirit, one spiritual body, and each one is a member of the other; no other brotherhood is so deep and close.

But if you say, “Unless I get something through the fellowship, of what use is it?” The answer is, “You serve the community and other peoples as love does, and you will have your reward without any seeking or desiring it.” Love serves freely, which is why God in return also gives to it every blessing, freely and without charge. Because all things must be done in love if they are to be well-pleasing to God, the community must also be in love. Yet what is done in love can by its nature not seek its own; instead, it seeks the benefit of others, and especially the congregation. As you find your trust in Christ and his dear saints growing in strength, your certainty grows of their love toward you, and how they will stand by you in all the troubles of life and death. Therefore your love goes out to each one and you desire to help everyone, hate no one, suffer with all, and pray for all. Again, if you take to heart the shortcomings and lapses of all Christians and of the whole church or the fall of any one, and your love is given to them all, so that you would readily help anyone, hate none, sympathize with all, and pray for them, then all is well.”