Created for Good Works
One of my least favorite sayings is, “God has a plan for you.” It makes it sound as if we have no free will in the relationship. It makes it sound like we have ‘only one thing’ to accomplish in this life. It is true that God has a plan for us, but the plan is never about us.
Brethren, God who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved), and raised us up with him, and made us sit with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, 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 because of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2.4-10
Saint Paul makes it clear. We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” His ‘plan’ for us is our salvation by faith. Our salvation is a gift from God. Good works is our ‘job’ as His hands and feet on earth.
In our baptism we are united to Christ. The Church, which are individually members of, is the Body of Christ. When we help others, it is Christ helping, not us. When we love, it is Christ loving, not us.
Today is the Feast of Saint Theodore the Commander and Great Martyr. His faith and devotion to God, along with his miracle survival on a cross, converted many and angered others. Was it ‘God’s plan’ that Theodore should be beheaded? No. His plan was that his faith would help others. It wasn’t about Saint Theodore. It was about God.
If you think your good works are being tallied to ‘get you in’ to heaven, think again. “Lest any man should boast.” Let’s face it. If ‘getting in’ were about good works, we would fall so short when compared to the Saints, we would have no chance.
There is no glory in ‘just doing our job’. “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” (1 Corinthians 9.16) Just doing what we are created to do is not worthy of glory.
That doesn’t mean we should not help others. Doing good works is just who we are. If anything, not doing good works means we are not living as we were created. If you want to be alive, then do good works. Think of doing good works like breathing air. You don’t score any points by breathing. But when you don’t breathe, you die.