Pastor’s Friday Comments (05.10.19)

The Men’s Group has just finished reading and discussing Miroslav Volf’s Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace. It is probably fair to say that most of us are relieved to be able to move on to something else. Our discussion revealed that we found the book to be densely written and the thought process complex, to say the least. Nevertheless, his points regarding forgiveness and the extension of generosity to everyone are extremely important in this “graceless culture” in which we find ourselves.

At the end of the book Volf includes a postlude that he calls “A Conversation with a Skeptic.” I suspect that the skeptic is his own inner voice, but in this concluding section he addresses the immense struggle any Christian has, not only with being forgiving and generous, but with many aspects of being true to our calling to follow Christ.

He is very candid in recognizing that neither writing nor reading a book is going to cure anyone from sin. But then he includes these important words:

I need daily disciplines of prayer, meditating on texts from the Holy Book, and silence. I need a community of fellow believers with whom to celebrate a vision of life that revolves around love of God and neighbor. I need friends to keep me accountable. I need my wife and my kids to hold the mirror to me and resist my selfishness, pride, and sloth. Ultimately, I need a new self and — my desires are not modest — a whole new world freed from transience and sin. Which is to say that I need God.

In those few words, it seems to me, Volf has captured the essence of the things all of us need if we are to be faithful followers of Jesus and true representatives of the love of God on earth. You might add something to the list, but I don’t think you can subtract anything from it.

Which leads each of us to the obvious question: Do I have each of these critical factors in my own life? Am I devoting the time to prayer, meditation, Bible study and silence that I need? Am I so actively involved in congregational life that I have caught the vision of love of God and neighbor? Do I have friends and family who love me enough to hold me accountable? And, perhaps most critically, am I seeking to become a new self?

As Volf concludes those thoughts, he sums up by saying that he needs God. That seems obvious, but if we aren’t actively seeking to include all of those other aspects in our lives, it isn’t likely that we are ever going to find our way to God.

Through the life and ministries of our congregation it may seem that we are seeking to do a number of disparate things, but they should all lead us toward that one goal of finding the God that we all need. What we seek to do collectively, each of us must do individually and within the congregation. Check yourself. How’s that going for you?