Look at these two sentences from the passage in Ephesians. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved—and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. ESV
There is nothing in there for you and me to do. In fact, this is not your own doing, not a result of works. It is Mercy, Love, Life, Grace, Kindness, Gift. I don’t even need great faith. The Holy Spirit will give me the faith I need.
A key point is the last word, need. I don’t know what faith I need, because I don’t know what work I am doing for God. He controls both.
Consider Agnes Bojaxhiu from Albania who became Teresa when she joined a convent and Mother Teresa when she branched off to head her own convent in Calcutta, a mission to tend to the needs of the dying in that city of death. She became world famous for her unending work. People flocked to her side to assist for a day, week, month. Yet, after her death, her published letters revealed her own struggles of faith.
Time in 2007 reported, Yet less than three months earlier, in a letter to a spiritual confidant, the Rev. Michael van der Peet, that is only now being made public, she wrote with weary familiarity of a different Christ, an absent one. “Jesus has a very special love for you,” she assured Van der Peet. “[But] as for me, the silence and the emptiness is so great, that I look and do not see,–Listen and do not hear–the tongue moves [in prayer] but does not speak … I want you to pray for me–that I let Him have [a] free hand.”
I like the last line, let Him have a free hand. Too often we believe that becoming a Christian guarantees our lives will turn to sweetness and light. Doubts will never be a problem. The reality for most of us is closer to Teresa’s.
With her, or more to the point, with Jesus I can plod on to share the Mercy, Love, Life, Grace, Kindness, Gift. I don’t need to know what I’m doing if God knows. It is enough that what I am doing is a loving, kind, underserved gift full of life.
Read my earlier comments on this theme here.
Be righteous and do good.