Monday, July 13, 2009

What is the Goal?

Right now, it is very easy to get lost in the political wrangling of General Convention for the Episcopal Church. I spent Saturday afternoon at the Coffield unit and was reminded that the goal of the Christian Life is union with God. It is in places like prison, or the homeless shelters or food banks where we meet Jesus. It is where "the least of these" dwell that we find the confirmation of all our doctrines and dogmas. I had several conversations with inmates that are worried about their Christian walk and that they don't feel the ardour that they felt in their first conversion. Let me share the story that I shared with them. I read this in a commentary on the Rule of Benedict by Joan Chittister (spelling?) This story helps us remember that the goal of the Christian Life is union with God, not political wrangling or a specific outcome at General Convention.

There was a young novice monk who came to the master of novices and
asked: "Master what must I do to attain God?"

The master replied: "To attain God, you must do two things."

The novice thinks "Two things? I can do two things! This will
be easy!"

"First," says the master, "you must know that nothing you can do or think
or say will ever help you to attain God."

"And the second?" asks the novice - rather heartbroken and scared.

The master replies: "You must live as if you don't know the

Union with God is not our work. It is the work of the Holy Spirit. We can't put ourselves right with God nor can we make God love us more or less. But, and this is a rather large "but," we must be willing participants in our own sanctification. We must work hard at surrendering to God and we must practice self examination and denial and ask God to help us see ourselves honestly. The Christian life is easy because it is lived by God's grace. It is hard because we don't always want God's grace - we are too afraid that it will change us too much.

Phil Snyder

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