These words came to me this morning. Growing up Presbyterian, one often finds themselves faced with the word, “predestination.” This occurrence I often find rather short of any understanding of what growing up Presbyterian, in that reformed “liberal” church, which has made me who I am today was truly about for me. But, this morning I realize that the concept is what freed us to truly serve and love. I can not speak for all Presbyterian churches. Sometimes, I feel I need to return. Even so, I would miss the rituals of the Episcopal church, the procession of the cross, the expression and enthusiasm followed by the quiet entry. Church fascinates and bewilders me. I sometimes want to just give up on the institution and study and pray on my own. So many feel uncomfortable. Perhaps that discomfort is not their fault. Perhaps we need to open our arms as wide as our Lord would. We insist on our own ways, our own interpretations, calling them God’s way. People turn away. But, it’s important to me today to share these thoughts, these words that have come to me. Before I share, please know my first pastor always said their was no wrong reason to go to church. I do not believe we are wrong if we do not agree. But, I do think our gates need to be widened to those who may come to Christ differently. It’s not always an oxi-clean moment of instant gratification. Not to mention, that in the Old Testament, which many people fear reading these days, one can see God giving chances time and time again to people. Which means to me, we may be cleaned by oxi-clean, but we are never able to stay quite that lily white fresh. Being raised Presbyterian gave me insight and a perspective into faith as a journey rather than a one step process to the holy grail. Forgive me for the brashness of the description, but I find that many today feel such pressure to feel something, to achieve this goal, and it’s truly a process for most of us, if not all of us. Even those who make their commitment to Christ, often years later question where this commitment is and what does it mean now? It’s like there is a honeymoon phase and the true marriage, which is about a true love story, of a God who came to earth, made himself vulnerable to our cruelties, to seek out our best and sacrifice himself to save us all. We may know the story, but it never hurts to retell. Each time we may hear a bit different perspective. The concept that he was God in a human body is pretty amazing.
So, with all of that being said, I would like to share my passion for how I came to know my Lord. Predestination, this belief, sets us free to love God with no fear, to love and share Christ’s love with sheer abandonment. The truth is we are all free. We are free to love and serve a God who requires nothing of us. But, asks simply for us to love him with all that we are, and even falling short of such love, will love us all. Knowing we are all predestined gives us such great joy, and calls us to love and serve the Lord, for each and every one of has already been saved. We were saved before our birth on the day the veil fell, from the ultimate sacrifice. He has prepared a room for every single one of us. What does this mean we are to do? Be grateful, and walk in love as he loves us, every day. There is nothing we have done or can do to receive this love. Just as pharaoh’s heart was closed, so our hearts open and close according to his will. And, I believe it says that we will all come to know him. So, without being a scholar, I’m thinking that means we can all be together with God one day. I realize there may be scripture to indicate otherwise. Even so, this perspective is one I find to be true and very much possible.
The fact that we must only enter through the gates of Christ is why we accept that on that day, we were saved. There is nothing we can do today that can compare to that sacrifice. The most amazing realization being that nothing on earth can separate us from the love of God.
Committing one’s life to Christ can only glorify God and bring a maturity to the faith, when this commitment is made from the heart. Yet, the pressure to do so only brings a sort of faith anxiety for those too early in their journey I believe. To question, to wonder, can be the beginnings of this faith journey, and should not be discouraged but encouraged. I am troubled today with so many young people turning to other religions or faith systems, saying Christianity does not work for them. I know God will come to them. I have faith in that fact. Yet, I feel we are pushing them away and I am heartbroken.
How are we to respond in these moments of confusion? Well, I answer my question with a question. How righteous was King David? Were the disciples people of great faith walking the straight and narrow before they made their trek to be with Jesus, even falling short along the way? As we share how great our faith is, perhaps we should be focusing more on God’s love. After all, Paul does state it’s the greatest of the spiritual gifts. Yet, we harp on faith? We demand young people commit their life or the fiery pit awaits. This approach troubles me, as I never experienced this threat in my upbringing. I find it upsetting. Perhaps my upbringing was lacking and many people missed out by not hearing of the fiery pit, but that did not seem to stunt their journey. Faith is a gift we all need, yet it can not be forced. Love blooms eternally. Love transforms lives. To answer God’s call, would we be more suited to place pressure or to share the love that never stops growing and moving us to be better people for God? I believe it’s the latter.
Therefore, in knowing our home is secure, we can live more purposefully, loving one another more extravagantly, and spreading his message with great joy. In short, our work may not save us, but it sure as heck will be full of good fruit. The more we focus on how to get into heaven, the less fruit we bare, and the more technical a relationship that should be about connection rather than perfection becomes. Predestination is not about God choosing people like one picks out apples at the produce stand. Predestination is about that day, the day Christ died, and knowing in your heart it was for you. Living with that truth day in and day out, knowing a God’s love that surpasses all earthly things, even what day we may choose to surrender to his will, knowing we will still fall short, it’s about him and only him. It’s much less about us.
Therefore, live as the child of a king. Bear up good fruits. Produce labors of love and gratitude. And also know, when faced with adversity, you have already been forgiven. That’s really it.