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What is God’s purpose for me?

01 May

Below is a post I took from Facebook from the page of Bishop Timothy Marcus Smith. Yes, I asked him permission to use his post. I felt it was a wonderful look at who we are as God’s children in the world today. Before Bishop Smith was elected bishop of the North Carolina Synod of the ELCA, he was a pastor in the synod, and while he was a pastor there, one of the things he did was to serve on the candidacy committee, which helps prepare people to be rostered leaders of the church. He was the chair of the committee when I was a senior in seminary and I remember Bishop Smith asking me at my approval interview how my spiritual life was going. He said they had asked all of the other candidates as well, and my interview being the last one he was wondering my answer. I truthfully answered non-existant. To which he commented that all of us had answered the question that way, and it seemed strange to him that what had brought us to the realization that God was calling us into ministry, a spiritual life and discipline, was now not a part of our lives as we were finishing our studies. We are all broken vessels in need of His care every day, so what is God calling you to do, and how will you let Him use you, a broken pot, to nurture His creation?

When we Lutherans confess our sins (which is regularly and usually corporately), we ask forgiveness for those things we have done which we ought not do and for those things we have left undone which we ought to do. To me, this means in more practical terms that our daily spiritual discernment is what the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ intend, call, lead, empower, free or compel us to do/not do. In those places where discernment reveals we’re on a faithful track with our vision, values, and actions, we are called to be “conservative.” In those places where apparently God is not done with how I am and who we are and is continually calling me/us out of fear, shame, guilt, hate, death, and self-centeredness, a faithful pursuit, it seems to me, would be what Luther called the freedom of the Gospel, liberation from all that bows down to sin, death, and the power of the devil. It’s much easier (and lazy, and often wrong) for me to label you (or you me) a conservative or a liberal. Because Christ is alive and on the loose, we are called to continue in those things (conserve) that God in Christ intends for us and to let go of, be liberated and liberate others, from those things that separate us from God and from one another, including and especially (if we heed Jesus) the “least of these.” There’s a Gospel conservative and a Gospel liberal in each of us, dynamic rather than static. My simple Easter question of myself each morning will be, “As a baptized precious child of God, what is God calling me to hold on to (conserve) for dear life, and of what is God calling me to let go (liberate) so that in some small way God’s purposes might work from both poles of this spectrum even through this broken vessel that is me?”

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