Jesus will go on to say in the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew's gospel, not to do your charitable deeds to be seen by others, to impress them (cf. Matt 6:1) If you do, he says, then that's all the reward you get, there's nothing more waiting for you in heaven! So how does this teaching fit with Jesus' words about doing good works so that others see them in the verse above?
Well, perhaps Jesus is trying to help us orient the whole purpose and direction of our lives towards the Father. He wants us to live in such a manner that our very lives point others towards the goodness and mercy of our Father in heaven. He wants the Father to receive the glory that is due to His Name because of his beauty.
In the fall a group of us spent time reflecting upon and relating to 'The Good & Beautiful God'. In this season, through until Easter, we are now responding to the invitation to live 'The Good and Beautiful Life'. By the way, it is still not too late to join us on this journey together, but after next week we will need to stick with those already registered.
It is when we orient our life's purpose, pattern and priorities (that'll preach!) towards the Father, that I believe he will be most glorified and we will be most blessed. It is about recognizing, being thankful for and giving testimony to God's work of salvation is us .. how he has dealt with the problem of our wayward, self-centered choices (our sin!), how he has created something entirely new within us through the Holy Spirit that makes intimacy with God not only a desire but a reality.
With the new creation, through our trust in Jesus' completed work, our good works become possible. There is a new desire placed with us as well as a new power to accomplish what the Father wants. He starts it and he promises to bring it to completion as we abide in Jesus (cf. Philippians 1:6). But this is only possible through our learning to yield our will to the Lord, to choose his way and not our own, to live for his purpose alone even when it costs us something (btw, it usually will!)
In our first session of The Good and Beautiful Life, we were invited to write a letter to God expressing how we would personally like to live our lives and what we desire the most. I want to encourage all of you to consider doing this exercise yourself and keeping the letter as a reference point through the year, if not for the rest of your life! It might be something you share with others that you trust but for your encouragement (hopefully), I'm attaching the letter I wrote to God this week.
I want my remaining life to be something that brings you pleasure, lived by faith in you and your precious promises, lived as an adventure taking its cues from Word and Spirit. May I never settle for what I already have but press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me.
I want my life to increasingly be a blessing to my family – Carol, children and grand-children – as well as those I journey with within the family of faith. May I never stop learning and growing that Christ be formed in me by God’s grace and the Spirit’s work.
Keep me from mere institutional religion and help me to increasingly be a good husband, father, friend and brother. May the established unhealthy patterns of earlier life be replaced by more healthy patterns of relational intimacy and connection.
Help me to lead Jericho Road in the way of Jesus Christ and his kingdom, that we would see many come into a transformational knowledge of God’s love expressed through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus.
Grace, Mercy & Peace,