I’m reading Willard’s Divine Conspiracy. I really started laughing when I got to the end. Here’s why.
Willard works through the sermon on the mount. He opens with an infamous passage on “the gospel of sin management” and talks a lot about the kingdom of God being a reality that we can access here and now as God rules in the hearts of the believers. Over and over again he stresses that Jesus’ teaching in these chapters of Matthew are NOT a new law. But a new way of living.
And then when you get to the end, he gives you his law.
Willard’s solution to how to live the Christian life is discipleship. He outlines what this looks like. He has a sub-section entitled “What you should do”. After seven chapters of telling us that Christ was NOT laying out a prescription or formula of things we have to do, Willard tells us what to do.
Now in fairness to Willard, we have to do something. We have to start somewhere. But the abruptness of the transition and the contrast is so startling, you have to wonder how Willard could write it without realizing the irony.
But this is the crucial tension. We have have grace. We need to listen and abide and meditate and rest in Christ. Not just plan a million activities. Not make a legalistic must-do list of holiness. Not study until properly reformed (jn). So how do we balance the need to do something without developing our own special mini-law of what we should do?
My understanding is that Lutherans settle this tension by generally deciding that they shouldn’t have to do anything. (half jn)
What do you do to settle this tension?
Not to make this post overly long, but one place I’m struggling with this tension right now is in a Father/Son group we’ve started. The goal of the group is to get our 11 year olds prepared for their teenage years. But the group is filled with Type A guys who just want to plan the heck out of everything. An over-driven intentional, strategic, planned out version of Christianity that doesn’t leave much room for listening, meditating or the Holy Spirit. My son already has the gift of works/helps. The last thing he needs is to take his natural tendency to work hard and to couple it with a vision of Christianity as another to-do list. Argh.