A Tendency Toward Pragmatism
There is an obvious tendency toward using what works. However, this is not necessarily a healthy outlook in relationship, including our spiritual journey. For example, maybe I am struggling in my engagement with the word – its dry, its lifeless, my heart feels unpliable. We often seek a method to re-light the fire, so to speak. What will make the word come alive? Maybe I should try that study my friend was speaking about….That is pragmatism in action: “What can I do to make my life work?”
Moralism in the Pulpit
It is a rarity for me to leave a Sunday service without having heard an exhortation to go out and do something. I just need to be more focused, more determined, try harder next time. And so I ask God for his help and go back at it again. This sort of moralistic thinking is rampid in the evangelical world. Yes, there are imperatives in our faith journey – obedience, love, service, etc. But those imperatives are a natural overflow of a vibrant love-relationship. Self-determination does not bring life change beyond mere behavioralism.
Pragmatic moralism is a real killer. Avoid it like the plague that it is.
Relationship, Relationship, Relationship
God is not pensively waiting for us to do life better with more focus and determination. This is not his greatest desire for us. It is not what he is inviting us to. What is our God’s greater invitation?
He is always wooing us, inviting us, drawing us deeper into himself. His greatest desire is that we are hearing and receptive to his invitation deeper into communion.
As I said, determination does not lead to life change. Love transforms. Love is a Person. Grace is not an objective commodity that is passed around. We do not “plug into” God so we can do more stuff for him. Grace is a Person. We are invited deeper into Jesus. His life will overflow in ours. We will experience a growing desire to obey him and serve others – not out of trying harder, but rather as a Jesus-sourced desire.
It’s all about relationship.
My Life First, My Shepherding Second
As I am responsive to the Spirit’s constant invitation to enter into the eternal communion of the Father and the Son, that reality will cascade out of my life to others. My teaching will shift from emphasizing how hard we must work at our spiritual life (moralism) toward emphasizing a relational responsiveness to God who will bring the changes in our lives in time (relational-transformation).
So how is God inviting you deeper into abiding communion with Christ? How is He overflowing in your life? Where is the Spirit inviting you to grow in faith, hope and love? How are you responding to him to allow him to shape as he likes, when he likes? Relationship is the bedrock of each of these questions. Focus on Jesus. He is our Life, our ministry to others, our all.