That resource card might not help you get that development card

Wandering off of the Way of Wisdom can be hazardous. In Proverbs 14 we hear warnings of beatings, loneliness, poverty, death and (perhaps worst of all) becoming an oppressor of the poor, someone who shows contempt for their Maker (Prov. 14:31). These dangers lurk in the darkness that surrounds the path.

Many of us have been exposed to resources that are designed to keep us on the Way of Wisdom. Quiet time guides, prepared prayers, Bible studies, Christian books and music form guardrails for many of us in our pursuit of a Christ-like life. These resources are good...in their place.

In high school and into college I carried one of these resources with me everywhere I went, strapped to my wrist: the infamous WWJD bracelet. My friends held me to a higher standard because I wore the bracelet and I actually went several years without sinning. Yeah, I never once wandered from the Way of Wisdom while I wore my handy-dandy WWJD bracelet. When it started smelling really bad and the white lettering took on a yellowish tinge, I removed it and...to my horror...started sinning and wandering again.

You see through that, right? Resources can help us live life as Jesus taught and modeled it, but they are not enough. We ignore them to our detriment, but they are not enough. I'd recommend using a Bible reading plan, committing God's Word to memory, and singing quality worship songs in praise to God...but this is not enough.

Resources fail. This is a tough truth. You can read your Bible every day and not live life as Jesus taught and modeled it. Does that sound crazy?

One of the main reasons folks don't want much to do with Christians is because they see us as hypocrites, people who claim a relationship to God and yet fail to live the Christ-life. We've all known those people...heck, somedays I'm those people. No, resources aren't enough.

We need more. What do we need?

6 comments:

  1. Gotta love the subtle Catan references. Oh yeah.

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  2. Grace. Sola gratia.

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  3. Robert, great catch. I'm still working on my Catan strategy. I used to go for longest road and build a bunch of settlements, but lately I've been trying the cities and development card angle. (Are you a big Catan player or am I nerding you out right now?)

    Anyways, since discipline and strategy are related in both board gaming and spiritual growth, I was excited ot be able to drop the reference.

    Larry, you're absolutely right that grace is required absolutley for spiritual growth. I love it! God's grace is the primary limiting factor (to steal a technical phrase from the biologists)...without it, growth is not possible.

    I'm interested to see the "Sola gratia" applied to the process of sanctification. I don't think I've ever heard that before.

    I've always been taught that God unites us to himself by grace alone (justification: sola gratia) and then works in, through and with us to make us more like Christ (sanctification) on our way toward the Day we meet him in the air and are finally changed (glorification).

    I can see grace alone at play, as the Reformers wisely noted, in justification. And it clearly makes sense in that moment of glorification that there won't be anything we're asked to contribute. But it does seem that, empowered by God's grace, we are asked to exert effort during the season of sanctification.

    If that's true, how does "sola gratia" fit? This is really interesting to me. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts!

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  4. There are two things that I do not mean to imply:
    a. That the process of sanctification does not involve human effort; and b. That I have all of this figured out.
    Having said those things, let me venture that I think it is important that we remember that in the relationship between God and man, God is the prime mover. He is the agressor, from first to last. (You did not chose me, I chose you.) Jesus said he only did those things that He saw the Father doing. Thus, even in sanctification, it is "god who worketh in you, to will and to do."
    This is important in our time because of our fixation on control and technique. We're all about this diet and that supplement and this investment strategy and that workout and the Purpose Driven Life and on and on. We are Martha, instead of Mary, even in our approach to the devotional life. We are restless. We need to know we may rest in God. We need to acknowledge that he saves and sactifies us.

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  5. That's really insightful, Larry.

    I'm hoping to circle over to that in a later post (on perspective), but I think you're absolutely right.

    I might even go a step further and say that, some of the fixation on control and technique, some of the desperation around devotional life and guilt around broken QT streaks reveals that a lot of us live as if our devotional performance determines our child-of-God status. Many of us have a poor "lived theology."

    And it's in that "lived theology" where sanctification plays out. Do we sanctify ourselves or is it, as Larry claims, "God who worketh in you"? Larry has it right (as does Paul). God works in us. We don't do anything good or for the kingdom that wasn't put into motion by God. Our efforts, our good works are all dependent, all secondary.

    From the right perspective, all our effort looks so tiny as to be insignificant. It's not. I mean, our effort matters, God asks us to exert effort in discipleship, but in the big picture...it's nothing to boast about.

    Thanks for clearing that up, Larry. You've got a lot of insight into God and his Word.

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  6. Keep up the good work, Steve.

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