March 18th Reflection

From the Book of Common Prayer:

Cyril of Jerusalem lived in the fourth century.  His gift to the church was his refusal to separate good doctrine from good living, insisting that orthodoxy (right belief) and orthopraxis (right living) must be married.  He was accused of selling some gifts from the emperor and giving the money to the poor.  Cyril was condemned and forced into exile.  He died in 386 at the age of seventy.  Of his thirty-five years as a bishop, nearly sixteen were spent in exile.

    Cyril said, "The way of godliness consists of these two parts, pious doctrines and good works.  Neither are the doctrines acceptable to God without good works, nor does God accept works accomplished otherwise than as linked with pious doctrines."

We are offered a good reminder by Cyril for our life of faith.  We have all experienced the conversation at one time or another about whether we need to all believe a particular way vs. the emphasis being on action.  Maybe you've heard people argue about whether the authority of God is more important...or whether living a life of love is more important.  It's essentially the same argument that Cyril addressed.

We could point to various authors and people across scripture who make cases which might seem to favor belief over works: the author of the Gospel we call Matthew, Paul, James, Jesus, and others.  It's good for us to remember that it is our heart that God is interested in.

Are we living a life of emphasis of one over and against the other out of an effort to be more fully devoted to God and God's will and purpose for our lives?

Has our emphasis on one or the other created unity and the building up of the body...or is it causing division?

Are we clinging to one so we can feel more secure about our insecurity with the other?

These are all good questions to ask ourselves.  Ultimately, we should consider the life we live and the way we believe to be great marriage partners.  Each informs and perfects the other.  One of my favorite authors says, "You cannot think your way into new ways of living, but you certainly can live your way into new ways of thinking."  Our faith in action should be a teacher to our beliefs.  We have so very much to learn, don't we?  In the same light, we have so much to teach each other.

So let us go and be learners (disciples).  Let us follow the leading of the Holy Spirit, even if we cannot define or explain that leading by any particular belief system.  "God’s Spirit blows wherever it wishes. You hear its sound, but you don’t know where it comes from or where it is going. It’s the same with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (John 3:8-CEB)

Lord, let your Spirit lead us into new ways of both thinking and living for the sake of your Kingdom here and now.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you: wherever he may lead you.

may he guide you through the wilderness, protect you through the storm:

may he bring you home rejoicing at the wonders he has shown you:

may he bring you home rejoicing once again into our doors.