For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
- Ephesians 2.10
Observe the forms and beauties of sensible things, and comprehend the Word of God in them. If you do so, the truth will reveal to you in all such things only he who made them, outside of whom you have nothing to contemplate, for he himself is all things.
- Eriugena, Homily on John 1.1-14, Irish, 9th century
Why have we been redeemed by our Lord Jesus Christ? Is it just so we’ll get to heaven some day?
Of course, we rejoice that this is true for all who know and love the Lord Jesus. But going to heaven is not the whole story of why the Lord has left us here for now. We also have been created in Christ Jesus for good works, while we yet remain in this mortal tent.
Why did He die and rise again, forgiving our sins and granting us the gift of life? Our lives have been hidden with Him in God (Col. 3.3); in Him we take up good works, and thus, as Jesus did, bear witness to our heavenly Father, Who is all goodness, beauty, and truth.
Life in the Kingdom involves the pursuit and practice of good works, because these refract the reality of our good God to the watching world. Paul says that believers should be zealous for doing good works (Tit. 2.14), ready for good works (Tit. 3.1), “careful to maintain good works” (Tit. 3.8), and do good works that we “may not be unfruitful” (Tit. 3.14).
Clearly, if we’re not preparing for, thinking about, seeking opportunities for, and daily performing good works, we’re missing a primary part of what it means to be saved.
But how can we know which works are good, and which, therefore, we ought to pursue? Three ways.
First, by studying and reflecting on the good works of our Lord Jesus Christ – His mercy, kindness, and sacrificial ways (Acts 10.38; Phil. 2.5-11). Jesus gives us many examples of doing good, as we see Him reaching out to those in need, loving the unlovely and unlovable, and speaking the truth in love. We also see Him resisting the devil, humbling the haughty, and preparing His disciples for good works more abundant than His own (Jn. 14.12). The good works Jesus did are the good works we should do as members of His Body.
Second, we can learn which works are good by meditating on the Law of God, and thinking through its application to our everyday lives. Here we find the good works that God “prepared beforehand” for us. The Law is holy and righteous and good (Rom. 7.12); we should expect, therefore, that it can guide us in those good works that express love for God and our neighbors.
Finally, as Eriugena explained, we may discern what is good by studying the creation itself. Though the creation has been affected by the fall, still, there is enough of the original goodness of God in creation to discern what God expects of us (Gen. 1.31). We may discover in the creation examples of beauty, efficiency, community, cooperation, and practical wisdom, as Solomon shows us throughout the book of Proverbs. We may expect the study and contemplation of creation to suggest many ways that we, too, might refract the goodness of God in our daily lives.
We have been created for good works, and those good works will differ from the dead and self-centered works we habitually did while we were yet in our sins.
But knowing which good works to embrace, and how to live them out, does not come automatically. Instead, we must give ourselves diligently to the task of understanding our calling and taking it up with focus and diligence in our Personal Mission Field.
Prepare each day for good works. Study the Word, reflecting on the day ahead as you do. Wait on the Lord, seeking from Him guidance for specific situations and people. Make a note to yourself, and carry it with you as you go out into your Personal Mission Field. Let the goodness of the Lord revealed all around you in creation remind you of the ways you can do good to others.
Be ready, zealous, and careful for good works, and you will know the power of Christ at work in you.
Psalm 15.1, 2 (Arlington: This Is the Day the Lord Has Made)
Lord, who may dwell within Your tent, or on Your holy hill?
All those who keep Your covenant and walk within Your will.
All they who with integrity work peace and righteousness,
Forever in God’s house shall be forgiven, kept, and blessed.
Teach me to know You, Lord, as I see You at work in creation and hear You speaking in Your Word. Adapted from Columbanus, Sermon I
Reading the book of creation
It really is possible to “read” creation as Volume 2 in the series, “Divine Revelation” (Volume 1, of course is The Bible). But we’ll need to learn the disciplines that go with this if we want to gain the benefit God has for us through His Word in creation. Consider the Lilies is an introduction to the discipline of creational theology, which is the discipline we use to discover the glory God is revealing in His creation. You can order a copy for yourself from our online story by clicking here.
If you have not yet identified your Personal Mission Field, watch this brief video (click here). Then download the worksheet accompanying the video, and get started being ready, zealous, and careful to do good works today.
As you pray…
Would you prayerfully consider helping The Fellowship? Take a few minutes today and ask the Lord whether He would have you share with us in the financial needs of this ministry. God supplies all our needs, and He does so through friends who share our vision and benefit from our ministry. It’s easy to give to The Fellowship of Ailbe, and all gifts are, of course, tax-deductible. You can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal, or send your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
T. M. Moore, Principal
All Psalms for singing from The Ailbe Psalter. Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Bamford, p. 89.