Friday, April 04, 2008

God's Delight in You

So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God (1 Cor. 10:31).

Moses had a burning bush. Jonah had a three day prayer retreat in the belly of a great fish. Paul was knocked to the ground and left blind for a few days. Isaiah was undone by a temple vision. Gideon got dry ground and wet fleece one day, wet ground and dry fleece the next. That kind of call from God is hard to miss, a no-brainer.

The whole idea of calling would be easier if God would just be clear. So many biblical characters received unmistakable callings. We, however, are often left to grapple with things like salaries and benefits, schools, commute time, lost income from staying home, where we fit in the org chart and our positioning for future opportunities. Absent the blinding light and burning bush, we don’t take our own calling seriously.

We’d love a divine GPS system – but looking for heaven-sent signs is risky and we don’t always correctly interpret the signs we see. Case in point: Martin Luther.

Luther graduated from the University of Erfurt in 1505 and immediately began preparing for a career in law. His Father had bent over backwards to make sure Martin had every opportunity, and there was no question that Hans Luther wanted his boy Martin to be a lawyer. You couldn’t do much better than a career in law.

But on July 2, 1505 Luther was walking back to Erfurt after a visit home when he was caught outside in a thunderstorm. A bolt of lightening knocked him to the ground and in his fear he cried out “Help me St. Anne, I will become a Monk!” It was a vow that he kept, grieving his Father. Luther entered the Augustinian monastery at Erfurt and began the journey that would take him from monk to reformer of the Church.

There’s nothing to suggest that Luther regretted his vocation as a theologian. However, he looked back on his decision to enter the monastery as a sin. It was a sin because it was a response to fear, not to grace. Luther believed that to make God happy, he needed to do something religious: become a monk, pray more.

That kind of thinking lingers. There’s a nagging suspicion that God is most pleased with us when we do religious things. As a result, too many people live with the notion that their work is something that Gods merely tolerates, knowing that our bills need to be paid and our families need to eat.

But Luther had it wrong, and so do we.

What God truly delights in is people – people and not simply their jobs. What we do with life is our way of responding to God’s delight in us. God created us, gave us certain gifts and abilities, wired us with particular inclinations and capacities. The way we spend our days is our expression of who God made us to be.

Raising a toddler, showing a house, prescribing medications, filing a brief, preparing bag lunches – God delights in all of this when we do it as a response to God’s grace at work in us. Even Luther came to see this. In a 1522 writing titled “The Estate of Marriage” Luther noted that God and angels smile when a man changes a diaper.

You don’t do religious things to cause God to delight in you. God’s delight created you, just as you are. God delights in you, and whatever you do today can be done to God’s glory.

In all that I do today, O Lord, let me know of your pleasure. Help me to live this day as an act of worship – an expression of my own delight in you because of your abundant grace to me. Amen.


Lawrence said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Lawrence said...

Pastor Mark,
I do not know if you remember me- I was a youth at Olive Chapel when you were pastor- it has been a long time! I hope your doing well.

I enjoy reading your blog and I especially like today's. As a student who studies Luther, I understand where you are coming from. That God delights in everything we do- its a message that many people- Christians included- need to hear.

Omaha Greg said...

Came across this beautiful photo on the web. Your description of God's love for us prior to anything we do is certainly right on. On the other hand, the common Protestant notion that that Luther "discovered" this and was the great "reformer of the Church" is anti-Catholic mythology. Read the great mystics of the Middle Ages like Catherine of Siena and Francis of Assisi (or the sublime Summa of Thomas Aquinas) and you'll find the primacy of grace, properly understood. Grace that doesn't merely cover us like snow, but that transforms us so that we become children of God, partakers of the divine nature (2 Pet. 1:4), unworthy though we are. As for Luther, I recommend checking out "Roots of the Reformation" by Karl Adam to grasp how his theology was tainted by Ockham's nominalism, or the Catholic Encyclopedia article on him also reveals a more balanced perspective.