Without Christ, we are going to follow our own ends. This leads to tribalism. We need limits on our behaviour. God is merciful. He saved the people of Israel and those who joined them… and gave them a law that is sustainable. But no one can keep it.
We thus need the work of Christ. For he will rescue from all parts of humanity, the distant and the near, those who have gone before and those in the future.
27 All the ends of the earth shall remember
and turn to the LORD;
and all the families of the nations
shall worship before him.
28 For dominion belongs to the LORD,
and he rules over the nations.
29 To him, indeed, shall all who sleep in the earth bow down;
before him shall bow all who go down to the dust,
and I shall live for him.
30 Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord,
31 and proclaim his deliverance to a people yet unborn,
saying that he has done it.
In the end, it is not us that have saving power. We are flawed. We are fallen. We cannot do it. It is not the church that has saving power, for that is made up but of men. It is Christ. For Christ’s spirit should guide us, Christ will perfect us, and Christ will preserve the church. As Paul says, we work because we are under obligation: we do good because we are compelled. Left to our own devices, we would Party Hard (For various values of partying).
16If I proclaim the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting, for an obligation is laid on me, and woe to me if I do not proclaim the gospel! 17For if I do this of my own will, I have a reward; but if not of my own will, I am entrusted with a commission. 18What then is my reward? Just this: that in my proclamation I may make the gospel free of charge, so as not to make full use of my rights in the gospel.
19For though I am free with respect to all, I have made myself a slave to all, so that I might win more of them. 20To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) so that I might win those under the law. 21To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law) so that I might win those outside the law. 22To the weak I became weak, so that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that I might by all means save some. 23I do it all for the sake of the gospel, so that I may share in its blessings.
Now, we are where we are. Our duty is to do good in the circumstances we find ourselves: we are not to wait for perfection or a time of no responsibility, for that will not happen.
- We should aim for excellence in what we do: as we miss (which is the usual course of events we will end up with something that is good enough.
- We should have interests. You can’t be a Jew to Jews, or a Gentile to Gentiles, unless we can do things with them. Now, for many women, this can be play dates and coffee — for their children and school are shared interests. For guys, it is more likely to be work or sports. I follow rugby, not because I love the game (I don’t) but because it allows me to talk to the average bloke around here.
- And, in this Lenten season, we must be gentle with each other. Some will use the rituals of the church, special days and festivals . Others will not, for every day is holy. Here I have to watch my sense of humour — the Presbyterians may be God’s Frozen People, but we don’t have to be sarcastic about others.
One of the current virtues of the interwebz is that we can say, still, what we think. But we lose information. We have but our bare words. The non verbal means by which we modify our discussions cannot occur with text.
This means that we can hurt each other quickly, deeply… and at times unintentionally. Now, for men… Iron sharpens Iron. We do not mind confrontation. If you push, we push back. But for many women, this is very hurtful. As a result, the men tend to talk to the men and the women to the women… which is not bad — and in fact good — provided that we do not follow our natural tendencies to (a) see all women as stupid and servants (men) or (b) see all men as violent, dumb, brutes with useful wallets (women).
God uses marriage to force us to be together. It is a holy institution because it forces us to grow. Which is why the enemy rejoices whenever there is a divorce, and celebrates when a generation chooses not to marry. But in marriage (by God’s rules, not the current legal ones) we can gently lead each other, so that we do good and not pain.