Thursday, February 26, 2004

The Purpose Driven Life - Chapters 5 and 6
or, "We Live by works."

Short and off the cuff:

Okay, I have to admit I'm getting a little annoyed. I read chapter 4 yesterday and chapter 5 today, but didn't journal about 4 yesterday.

Chapter 4 is "Made to Last Forever," in which author Rick Warren emphasizes that this life is only a preparation for the next life, and "While life on earth offers many choices, eternity offers only two: heaven or hell...there are eternal consequences to everything you do on earth."

He says just as life in our mothers' wombs prepared us for life in this world, so life in this world prepares us for life in the next world. "The deeds of this life are the destiny of the next."

Some of my views of eternity were influenced by Francis MacNutt, a former Dominican priest who became a leader in the healing movement in the church. He taught that life eternal is not something separate from life now -- it is all one line -- life eternal. We've already begun it. It's not something we get after we're dead. I think of it as one of those time lines you might see in a history book, with color-coded eras. I see life here and life hereafter -- all part of one line, one pink segment and one green segment, joined together.

That means salvation begins here and now. Our lives are subject to redemption here and now. We can experience healing here and now.

Chapter 5 -- "Seeing Life from God's View." It's all about earning brownie points for heaven. Life is a trust, a test (that we must get grades on) and a temporary assignment (during which God has out his pad and pencil, making notes on how well we're doing). Warren talks about how we steward our possessions and our money. (I was getting uneasy at the prospect of some gospel of prosperity). Again, it was all about works. There is truth to this. Faith without works is not a faith, for faith impels us to works.

But I would like to hear some about grace. It is grace that saves us, not our own efforts. They are a response to grace.

This whole Lenten season of reflection and introspection is about a world without grace, a world without Christ Jesus.

A Lenten reflection:

I am dust

I am grass that withers and dies in drought,
tinder for the fire that burns.
I am black ash that rises to the sky
and settles back down over the dull brown earth.
I am nothing, scattered by the wind.
I wait for the springtime rain,
the saving rain that searches the earth,
that feeds my parched dry roots
and brings from me new shoots of green.

--the Unsaintly Pat, 2-26-04

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