Sunday, March 1, 2020

Talk is Cheap. Walk the Talk. [#JesusFollowers]

Talk is cheap. It’s easy to talk, but hard to work. Human beings naturally incline towards inertia. We like to remain still, to be lazy, to take shortcuts, and to avoid hard work whenever possible. 

This isn’t to say we cannot overcome this inertia, or that inertia is somehow inevitable. But it’s something we have to recognize in order to overcome it.

This is true not only in our work life, but also of our religious life, because we like to take shortcuts, to avoid work, and to win the race of faith without ever putting our running shoes on – or even getting out of bed, if we can avoid it!

But that’s just not how God has designed religion, if we are to believe Jesus, whose words challenge us to a vigorous faith comprised of Good Works, and promise that these works result in our salvation.

It's cheap (and easy) to say that we need not do Good Works to please God. It’s easy to follow the path leading through what Jesus calls "the Wide Gate" by saying that our behavior is only “extra” stuff that we do for Others – our little crumbs from the table we give to God as “gifts” of grudging gratitude – because (we assure ourselves) we're going to be awarded salvation by God regardless of how we act. 

Good Works, if done at all, are optional on our part, some assert, and if they are done to please God, they’re actually “filthy” and unacceptable in His sight. Thus, we have rationalized practicing a lazy, self-centered religion.

The problem with this line of thinking is that Jesus teaches us just the opposite approach. 

Jesus clearly, and repeatedly, taught that if we claim to follow him, we are saved not by our faith alone, but by OUR WORDS (Matt. 12:37) and will be judged and rewarded in Heaven by OUR DEEDS (Matt. 16:27/2 Cor. 5:10.) Only those who seek to obey God’s Moral Law will see eternal life.

"And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” The answer: “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.” (Mark 10:17-19.)

Jesus could have said, “Just have a belief that a deity of some sort exists, and you’ll be instantly awarded eternal life by God.” Instead, he told him, in effect, “You know God, and Know His Law; Now Walk in it – Walk what you Talk.”

It's a very cheap grace indeed (as Bonhoeffer phrased it) - by which we presume to command God to accept a once-in-a-lifetime, emotional confession in His Son as a 'ticket' to eternal life. Jesus says that simply crying out “Lord, Lord!” without doing the Will of the Father is insufficient (Matt. 7:21-27.) We thus cheapen God's offer by treating it cheaply.

Just like simply enrolling in a College doesn't permit us to view ourselves as instant graduates - without any requirement to attend classes or do the required coursework - belief is only a first step in our faith. Simply professing belief, without accompanying it with active Good Works, is not enough (James 2:19.) 

Obeying God’s chosen spokesman, Jesus (John 8:51; 14:23) and abiding in him (John 8:31) and (in the most radical text of the entire New Testament) walking “just as he walked” (1 John 2:6) is what is required.

Jesus always echoed the Hebrew Scriptures regarding God's view of our deeds. The Psalmist records, "For Yahweh is righteous; He loves righteous deeds; the upright shall see His face." (Psalms 11:7) and "Surely the righteous will praise Your name; the upright will dwell in Your presence." (140:

He told us, "Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” (Matt. 7:13-14.)

All the while as we walk our spiritual journey of Faith, let us remember that we are to rely constantly and in humility on God's continual forgiveness and His Spirit to guide, strengthen and encourage us, for we aren't presuming to do this on our own, though we are empowered to walk in the steps of our Master, and we are assured that we CAN do it (Deut. 30:11) by seeking to walk in his steps.

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