Friday, October 16, 2015

mercy or justice? faith or works? predestined or free will?

Today's readings: Jeremiah 28:1-29:32, 1 Tim 1:1-20, Psalm 86:1-17, Prov 25:17

So I felt like I had a good insight today. It happened as I was thinking about the book I'm writing. Then it was confirmed during church today. And it's reflected in tonight's readings.

Paul talks about the purpose of the law. And that brings up the faith vs works, mercy vs justice, predestination vs freewill debate. Which is it? Do we have to DO something to be saved? Does it matter to God what we do, or does it only matter what we believe? Are we predestined for salvation, or do we have a choice in the matter?

Well, the phrase that came to mind for my book is "sink or swim." I thought of it because I'm here in Rome, and I'm among Jesuits. They have a pretty tough program here academically. Many of these guys have to learn Italian so they can take their classes (on other subjects) IN Italian. Does that sound hard to you? And yes, they're being helped by their peers and their superiors and by God... but it's also really hard work! It's a sink or swim moment... they're in the water, and if they don't swim, they will definitely sink.

But what does sinking look like? What does it look like in our life with God? Because we are in this life, and this life isn't easy. We're swimming, and some of us are barely keeping our noses above the water. Some of us only doggy paddle. And when we get tired, when we make bad choices, when we fail... and we start to sink... what then?

Well, with the Jesuits... with our spiritual lives... and in my book... we are not abandoned. That's where the line between faith/works, mercy/justice, predestined/free will comes in. God catches us. Does it matter what we do? Absolutely. It's sink or swim. Does God expect us to do things for our salvation and the salvation of others? Definitely. Our works matter. There is justice and there are consequences to our actions. And we have free will - we can choose to fail.

But God catches us. He has mercy... He gives us grace... He responds to our faith.... and He predestines us to fall into His arms when things just get too rough and we find ourselves sinking.

It's sink or swim.... but there is a Lifeguard.

Thank You, God, for giving us choices that matter... but being there for us when we fail.