Saturday, December 25, 2021

Optional and Required

I have been thinking about the difference between what is optional and essential as it pertains to my faith.
  How do I decide what is optional (I can do without and there is no negative result) and what is essential or required?  My mind then compares this to how I answer this question in other areas of my life, such as my job.  When I was working on Airplanes, how did I determine what was optional and what was essential?  At an absolute minimum, showing up for work was absolutely required.  If I did not show up, it would have reflected poorly on my commitment, and I would have gotten a reprimand in my file.  If I made a habit of not showing up, the Air Force would have punished me and booted me out.  But I had to do much more than just show up.  I had a job to do as part of a larger picture in fulfilling our mission.  I had to do it well and with the proper attitude.  I had to get along with and work well with others.  Attending ongoing training for updates on our equipment and software was also a must.

As I reflected on this, I came up with similar lists whether it was related to my time as a student, or to my voluntary participation on a team or some organization.  After considering all of this, I came back to this question in regard to my faith.  I know what my words have said about my commitment to God and his will, but what do my actions say?  I am reminded of what Jesus said toward the end of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7:  "Not everyone who says to me, 'Lord, Lord' will enter in the Kingdom of Heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father in Heaven."  What do my actions reflect when it comes to my faith?  Am I more committed to my job, team, recreational activities, and other such things, which will pass away when Christ returns?  When I have a choice, do I choose these over Christ and his church which he purchased with his own blood?  Do I, at a minimum, show up, or am I absent more than I am present?  Do I follow Jesus' instructions and engage in mutual encouragement with my brethren without forsaking attendance (Heb 10:24-25)?  Am I doing my best to present myself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth (2 Tim 2:15)?  Do I participate in Bible Classes, study, and training to become better in my job in serving Christ?

As I reflect on this, I realize how the employee analogy falls far short of describing the nature of my relationship with our Lord.  After all, the Bible does not say that we are employees of Christ, but it does say that we are the bride of Christ.  Being a spouse is worlds apart from being an employee.  If I approached my marriage by doing the minimum requirement for marriage, then my marriage may be in trouble.  Key actions in marriage include love, honor, and selflessness.  Love does not look for minimum requirements but overflows as much as possible.  The root idea behind honor is value.  Jesus showed his value for his bride by literally giving his blood for us.  We, collectively as his bride, show honor for him by pleasing him as one in selfless service.  Someone once said marriage is not 50/50 relationship, but a 0/100 relationship.  Both partners focus selflessly on loving the other 100% of the time. 

This puts commitment to Christ and his church in a very different light.  It causes me to move beyond the Sunday morning attendance requirement to being together with church and participating whenever I can.  Whether it is a Bible Class, Picnic, ministry effort, or simply staying after church and visiting, I don't view any of this through the lens of "required vs. optional."  I view it through the lens of being the bride of Christ.

Perhaps the question I need to ask myself is, "Am I faithful to Christ as a bride should be to her spouse?"  and as a follow up, "How should my words and actions reflect this?"

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