Lest I confuse those who read this and assume I wrote it recently, I should say that this is a re-posting of a blog entry I composed in September of 2008.
A great man said: Enough of piety. Let us take care of each other.Or, at the very least, that’s what he was getting at. Martin Luther most certainly advocated for response to our inherent nature as stewards. What did he mean, though?
Until recently, my outlook has been unfortunately Catholic. There is a vision of piety in the Mother Church that calls on individuals to spend abundant energy and gifts purifying one’s own soul, to figuring out the elusive reward of redemption. How to earn it? How to make myself a better person that I can be assured a place in heaven? How to act, to my own ends, to my own good?
This, of course, is not all of Catholic theology. But it became the hallmark of the Church for me, and one that I have clung to so strongly it’s damaged my self, and those whom I dearly love. Luther upset the great Catholic teaching and said: Forget about being rewarded redemption; it’s already yours. Now, go out and do some good in and for the world.
And so I ask myself now—in the peace of being made a part permanently of God’s kingdom, how can I spend my life on this earth? It seems plain enough, and not weighted down with the responsibility of earning my place in His house.
I must advocate for my friends, knowing that their well-being and happiness is more necessary than my own immediate and temporary happiness.
I must devote my life to the small and the large, recognizing that all things are interrelated. Everything I say and everything I do has an effect; I have the power to make them change this world for the better.
I must sacrifice my own elevation for the growth and maintenance of the human community. For I am nothing without them and they are nothing without me.
I must abandon sedentary dreams that are ego-driven. Nothing that is done for me and me alone is profitable.
I must tend to creation in every form—the diverse creatures in nature, the diversity of humankind, and every idea, thought, dream, hope, and bit of knowledge that forms the fabric of life. And in tending them, I must uphold them as legitimate, and in upholding them, I must advocate for them, as they themselves produce and foster the fullness of life in creation.
I must not pretend that God requires my prayer, my loyalties, my devotion. For if I do, they become obligations and responsibilities rather than gifts freely given. God is the sum of all creation and more so—more than I can imagine. And because of this, I must trust Him completely.
I must not do anything which is not in my nature to do, or pretend to affect change which I cannot affect.
I must live in the knowledge that I am forever loved, regardless.
I must always be open to the opportunity that this world in God provides. I must never turn away for fear.
I must remember I am human, and in my humanity, am weak.
I must remember I am human, and in my humanity, am strong and redeemable.
I must remember that I am as integral to this world as the sun is to the day and the moon to the night. There is nothing that would function the same way if I were not a part of it.
In holding to these, I must reach out to those who are lost, searching to find a ground on which to stand and a purpose to embrace.
I must remember that our purposes are many and varied, and I cannot dictate them.
I must always know we are figures of God in the world, and in that, there is always good.
I must give my life in this world up when God asks, knowing that there are purposes which I cannot and will not every understand.
Whatever counters me in my efforts towards these, I must always know that nothing that can defeat or supersede God.
That yes, love is the common denominator, and it has many faces.