Monday, December 13, 2010

Deeds and Grace

We are living in a time when civil discourse seems to be in rapid decline. “Soft” news dominates, and attention to serious matters is spotty at best. Being entertained is more important than being educated. Constant distraction has displaced thoughtful contemplation. “It’s all about me” has unseated any concern for loving neighbor.

Our media focus on the outrageous; and the more outrageous the situation, the more media play the subject seems to receive. Too much of our attention is claimed by the trivial. Many in our society long for a moment of notoriety. All kinds of insignificant foolishness foisted upon us as newsworthy is little more than ego trips driven by someone’s desire for a moment in the sun. “Reality TV” has displaced real life. We want to be distracted from the hard realities of life rather than to focus something constructive. Concern about “good deeds” has been lost in the fray.

A person who responds to God’s grace by loving God and who commits self to becoming a servant of Jesus Christ (column 5 on the “Making Disciples” Chart) will quickly recognize that devotion and service require active expression in deeds. Some of those deeds will focus on God (worship, piety, and stewardship, for example). Some will focus on the discipling community of faith (Bible study and koinonia, for example). Much will focus on deeds that show our love for our neighbors (column 6 on the “Making Disciple” Chart).

Loving God and loving neighbors are the core of our “doing” that grows out of our “being.” In our culture, however, “doing” is constantly threatened by the self-centered drive for attracting attention to ourselves. Unless our being has been shaped by grace, our doing is in danger of reflecting the “it’s all about me” of our culture. Grace demands a response, and that response focuses on loving God and loving neighbor; but if our deeds become disconnected from our experience with God’s grace, our intentions, our motives, and our actions will become self-serving efforts rather than reflections of Christlikeness.

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