Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Beauty Surrounding Duty

The latest book I am reading, "Counsel from the Cross", has me pausing and pondering and I thought I would process out loud; listen in if you'd like.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children. ~Eph. 5:1

When you read that verse what words really stuck out to you. Be honest. Your initial thought; place it in your mind. If you're like me be imitators got there first (which quickly translated to just imitate, and then must imitate).

I am afraid that we are designed to process in such a way as to filter out the familiar. All too often we hasten through life. Yes, in our haste we waste. Our senses are dulled: we myopically look without really seeing, experience busily bifurcated hearing without listening, rush to eat without tasting, necessarily breathe without smelling, and customarily touch without feeling. We load shed the familiar in our frenzy and it all fades while we focus on our litany of functions.

Our faith, our very relationship with the living God, the lover of our souls, is no different. If we spend anytime in the Word or prayer (and that is a big IF), we will likely leave each block-checking session with a tidy little take-away list of do's and don'ts. And so the Gospel goes. It just fades; relegated to the white noise of the "already known" and "fully understood". After all we have important things to do.

But, back to our verse. Take another look: what do you see? what do you hear? Ah, did you catch those words - "as beloved children"? Our identity! The very thing that informs every other thing. Look again. There is that easily forgotten, but immensely important "Therefore" (when you see the word therefore always ask what is it there for ;-). In the context of the first few chapters of the book of Ephesians it is a reminder informing us that in light of our justification, having been fully forgiven . . . Amazing, huh? The "therefore" guides the kind of imitating we are to be about. Not just some generic Godly-character-building evolution, but forgiving others as we have been forgiven in Christ. Do you see how easy it is to miss such important things as "therefore" in our filtering frenzy? Metaphorically, we ate our daily bread, but failed to taste. We distilled the Gospel in our desire to create a to-do. When the Gospel goes, what is left is the bitter (like that "poor man's espresso" left in the wardroom coffee pot that was simmering all night) self-awareness of us, our short-comings and the things that must be done to compensate. And so the challenge: take an operational pause; listen, see, taste, smell and feel the Gospel beauty surrounding duty.