Friday, November 28, 2008

Doing and Trusting God

I had a second epiphany this week (two in a month - Wow!) about what it means to live for Christ. If you'll recall in A Credible Witness, part of my conclusion was that it is not necessarily what we do, but how we live during what we do that makes us a credible witness for the power of God.

But in doing the things we do, I realized there is another level in which we can glorify God: by trusting Him with the result.

For all of my belief in altruism, the fact is that more often than not, I do things not such much just for reward of doing good as to (in some form or fashion) further my own agenda. Sometimes it is necessary, to be sure: to move things forward, it does not behoove us to make fools of people or their work and then ask them to support our program. None the less, I am hard pressed to think of times where I have truly done something purely out of love of God - or put another way, doing things without ulterior motives and leaving the results of God.

Like a flash, suddenly something I have never understood before came to mind: Brother Lawerence and The Practice of the Presence of God.

Brother Lawerence of the Resurrection was a 17th Century Carmelite monk outside of Paris; the collection of writing by and about him, called The Practice of the Presence of God (just enter the title on Amazon; there are a great many editions), discusses his philosophy and experience. He is often quoted as a mystic or an alternative to liturgical Christianity.

I had always struggled with some of his thought process, of doing things to God alone, or to quote Conversations 2 about him: "But having resolved to make the love of God the end of all his actions, he found this decision most satisfactory. That he was gratified when he could pick up a straw from the ground for the love of God, seeking Him alone and nothing else, not even His gifts."

But now I think I get it, although maybe not in the way it was intended: to live a credible witness to the Gospel and the existence of the God of the Bible, to truly place our trust in God (and both the Old and New Testament is littered with references trusting in God in ALL circumstances) - to do all this is to live in such a manner and way of the love of Christ that everything we do is not for some ulterior motive (a difference here between a planned course of action and steps and personal gain) but to do it because Christ would have us do it, trusting to Him to recompense the action (if not now, in heaven).

The benefits? We are free to act without looking for reward; we entrust any outcome to the God who richly rewards beyond anything we can imagine; we give flesh to the agape love of God, that love that does the best for the other regardless of feeling; that we in some small way become Christlike.

How would our witness change if this was our modus operandi?

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