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God and Neighbor

Hello There!

I’m just going to get right in there and bare it all! I hope you’re ready because this could get intense!

Over the weekend I have been working on crossing off the readings for next week. I finished my From Text to Sermon reading, Ages of Faith and Reformation reading, and Pauling Letters and Mission reading and have a chunk of Sytematic Theology and Foundations of Christian Worship assignments done. Go me! While doing these readings some of the ideas kept nagging at me. Pulling at something inside me and really digging in. I even cried during a couple of them.

What really got to me was the realization (mostly through Systematic Theology and Foundations) that, as a sinful person I can never be good enough for God. Now don’t go all suicide watch on me because that’s not what this is about. The point is that, as sinful creatures, our thanks, praise, prayers, etc. to God all fall short of perfection. Because we’re imperfect and incomplete, our prayers and whatnot are as well. Duh. As imperfect prayers, they aren’t worthy of God’s perfect completeness. In one of the readings, Bernard of Clairvaux puts it perfectly by stating “My God, my help, I shall love you as much as I am able for your gift. My love is less than is your due, yet not less than I am able, for even if I cannot love you as much as I should, still I cannot love you more than I can.” (p.347 in Readings in World Christian History).

And yet (and this is this kicker) God still loves us and accepts us for it. Now this isn’t to say that we can just do whatever and sin galore. Nope, that would definitely sadden/anger/frustrate/ (who knows?) God and we certainly don’t want that. I feel like this directly correlates to Ephesians 2:8-10 “8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ” No matter what we do, we cannot purchase our own salvation, but only receive it through grace.

It all really hit me, in a time where I feel like I’m struggling to keep up with all the concepts, that I am such a small, infinitesimal speck in the grand scheme of things. I’m not able to save myself, and I’m not able to give God the love that God deserves. So then what can I do? In this huge, crazy world, what impact to I have?

The answer came to me in a memory from my trip to Israel. In Abuna Chacour’s speech to us he said that “You Americans can travel to the moon, but you can’t knock on your neighbor’s door.” Aha! There’s the answer! I can go out and meet my neighbors, share in their hopes and dreams, discuss their fears, accompany them through the good times and the bad. I can be present in our conversation. In doing so, I am then able to show my love for my neighbor and, in doing so, show love for God as well. I may not be able to buy my salvation through my works, but I can darn sure show my thanks for that amazing gift by loving others. It may be imperfect, but it’s the best I’ve got.

God Bless!


Comments on: "God and Neighbor" (4)

  1. You should know, my friend, that you have already had a tremendous impact on a few of us just by being a part of our group and journeying with us. And we bless and thank you for that.

    • Thank you Shawn. I can definitely say the same for you, Tami and everyone else. I am so lucky to be going through this process with such amazing people.

  2. Thanks Paul for your insights. I always enjoy being in discussions like you are talking about, and the reading I find fasinating. When I was in the first church when we moved, I read all my Pastor’s OT books, while I was doing confirmation there. He is a Wartburg grad.
    Jill sang a song one Sunday with the line, All I have to give you God, is a thankful heart. That goes through my head when I pray. I think I am living vicariously through you.

    • Thank you, Carlyn, for your amazing support! You are one spectacular woman! I definitely wouldn’t be here had it not been for your support and encouragement. I can’t wait to have some amazing discussions when I get back home. Hopefully it won’t be too long before I’m able to visit.

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