Having recently returned from our mission trip to Ecuador, my head and my heart are still full of the things we discussed there. We spent time each day talking about and studying God’s word. Each morning, a different person would lead a discussion. It could be around a particular scripture that’s been speaking to them, something that’s been happening in their life, or a question that’s been on their heart.
Each evening, we would read a chapter from the Book of Ephesians, and discuss it. Two recurring themes that came up during that time were the idea of works (the things that we do for God) and priorities.
Throughout the history of the church, it seems like we keep falling back into old thought processes. We somehow convince ourselves that we have to do things to please God in order to earn our way into heaven. I have friends and co-workers that have said in the past, “I know I’m going to hell for the things I’ve done.”
It makes me sad that this misconception exists. It seems like religion, or religious leaders, have used the idea of earning your way into heaven as a way to control people. But, in the book of Ephesians, Paul is very clear about this.
God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.
So it’s not about if you are good or have done good things. The Bible tells us that we all fall short of God’s glory. We were all born with this sinful nature that seems to compel us to turn away from our creator. So if we all equally deserve to go to hell, and there is nothing we can do to earn or buy our way into heaven, we have to rely on something greater than ourselves for the opportunity to spend eternity with God.
And God, in his amazing love for us, made a way for this to happen through the death and resurrection of Jesus.
And now that we have this new life, we have a responsibility to do the good works that God has prepared for us to do.
Each of us have different work God has called us to. Each of us have specific talents and skills that we can use to do God’s work. The work that you do might look very different than the work that I do, but it is all for the same purpose; to show love to God and to our neighbors.
So how do you know what God wants you to do?
The best we could figure in our discussions is that you will know God’s will for your life when you are seeking a relationship with God. When we pray, when we give, when we read and meditate on God’s word, when we spend time in community with other believers, and when we get out and serve our community.
What I think is really cool is that by using our various skills and talents, God brings us together so that the church isn’t just a bunch of little Christian robots programmed by God, but we are all free thinking individuals working in concert to share God’s love with this world.
But we are all busy, right? Many of us have family responsibilities, jobs (some of us have multiple jobs), we have hobbies and passions that we want to pursue, and kids that need to be moved from activity to activity.
In the busyness of life, doing God’s work, and even pursuing a relationship with God can get pushed to the back burner, and eventually off the stove all together. We can get so busy with life that we forget why we are doing all the things we do.
So from time to time we need checkpoints; moments when you can ask yourself if your priorities are in line.
- What are the priorities in your life?
- What are you doing that you don’t need to be doing?
- What have you said ‘yes’ to in your life that you should have said ‘no’ to?
- What work are you doing that God has called you to do?
We don’t have to go to another country to do missions work to be doing God’s work. There is a mission field right here in St. Pete. There are opportunities to serve and love your community right here, right now. There are people that you work with and live your life with that need to know God’s love for them and God might be calling you to build a relationship with them in order to help them find the light in the darkness of their lives.
But if we are so concerned with completing tasks and checking boxes that we can’t stop and take time to build real relationships with people, then what does it matter how much we can get done in a day?
Remember, we cannot earn our way into heaven. We are saved because we believe and accept the free gift God offers to all his people. And, we have a responsibility to do the work God has called us to do.
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