Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Ring, Ring...

What should I be doing that I am not?

What shouldn’t I be doing that I am?

Am I living my life the right way?

What do the choices I make in my life say about me as a person?

Am I living out what God is calling me to do?

These are some very serious, uncomfortable questions that I feel we sometimes ask ourselves as Christians.    I ask myself these question almost every Sunday during the Confession of Sins.

Most merciful God,
we confess that we have sinned against you
in thought, word, and deed,
by what we have done,
and by what we have left undone.
We have not loved you with our whole heart;
we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. 
We are truly sorry and we humbly repent. 
For the sake of your Son Jesus Christ,
have mercy on us and forgive us;
that we may delight in your will,
and walk in your ways,
to the glory of your Name. Amen.

When I read through this… like really read through this…it is some very powerful stuff.  Not as powerful as some of the Rite I stuff…
…We acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness,
Which we from time to time most grievously have committed…

 I mean…wow…

Ok, Matthew, I get it, we are sinners…where are you going with this?

One thing you hear many people say is that you are your own biggest critic.  This is something that I both gladly and regretfully claim as being very true.

I say gladly and regretfully because I feel that it is both a blessing and a curse. 

While this quality does drive me to be the best I can be it also keeps me from seeing the good work I sometimes do.  For example, this past weekend I installed hardwood flooring in my mother’s living room.  Just another standard Saturday… 

Now for anyone who has ever laid flooring, you may know where I am going with this; if you haven’t…let me try to explain.

The most important part is that first row.  It must be perfect because everything builds off of that.  From there it is simply a tongue and groove joint you glue and then snap together.  The trouble comes when either one board is not placed perfect level or a board is even the slightest bit warped.  Once that happens, the joints do not fit and you start to get gaps between your boards.

Now, when you are installing flooring, you are looking at it from a perspective that you most people never really look at it…laying on the ground from 3 inches away examining every single joint.  From that close, and being such a big critic of my own work…there were many times when I would just roll over in frustration…grunting in anger because two boards did not fit together perfectly.  A few times I would even remove entire sections to redo them because I was not happy with what I had just done.

In the long run…those tiny little imperfections won’t make any difference in the world.  Most likely, no one will ever lie down to examine the joints of the floor.  They will probably just see it from a normal perspective or will just walk across it and not even give it a second look.  As a whole, the floor looks just fine and will serve its purpose.

When I think back to the Confession of Sins and to the questions posed at the beginning of this post…I try to imagine how we are like the floor.

My first thought is the floor was made with a purpose.  All types of flooring is different yet each one serves a different purpose.  Just as we are all different, but we all serve a purpose.  We may not always know it or see it, but we have one.

We are all called to do something.  Not a literal phone call when you mom calls to tell you to come do your homework, but a calling from God.  What are we called to do?  What are our gifts and how can we share them others?

Then I thought more about this, and just like the floor, even though we may be able to serve our purpose, we are not perfect.  When you look closely we all fall short and have our flaws.  But that is also what makes us who we are.  And in how we respond to those flaws and mistakes is also what will truly make us who we are.

In the 39 Articles which outlines the doctrines of the Anglican Church, article 9 states that original sin is “… not in the following of Adam, but it is the fault and corruption of the Nature of every man…”

We know we are not perfect and that is just fine.  But how do we respond to that? 

When we make a mistake are we truly sorry?  Do we humbly repent?

If we aren’t then why do we say them?

While reflecting on this topic today, I was moved strongly by a section from the letter of Paul to the Ephesians. 

What are we called to do? 

How do we go about doing that?

 I therefore, the prisoner in the Lord, beg you to lead a life worthy of the calling to which you have been called,  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love,  making every effort to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.  There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to the one hope of your calling,  one Lord, one faith, one baptism,  one God and Father of all, who is above all and through all and in all.
 But each of us was given grace according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore it is said,
“When he ascended on high he made captivity itself a captive;
    he gave gifts to his people.”
 (When it says, “He ascended,” what does it mean but that he had also descended[a] into the lower parts of the earth?  He who descended is the same one who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things.)  The gifts he gave were that some would be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ,  until all of us come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to maturity, to the measure of the full stature of Christ.  We must no longer be children, tossed to and fro and blown about by every wind of doctrine, by people’s trickery, by their craftiness in deceitful scheming.  But speaking the truth in love, we must grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ,  from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by every ligament with which it is equipped, as each part is working properly, promotes the body’s growth in building itself up in love.

-Ephesians 4:1-16

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