Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Skinny Jeans

I’ve crossed into that tenuous zone of middle-sized clothes. The “fat” pants are waiting – ready to see some action. The “skinny” clothes are missing me – afraid they have been abandoned.

Only time will tell if I can moderate my habits better in the next few months than I have in the last few months.

Citizens of undeveloped nations don’t have this problem. It is the great American problem.

But I think Americans can see a spiritual lesson here – if we are willing.

There is no guarantee that I will make it to heaven. I’d like to believe that my choices can’t derail me. I’d like to believe that I will remain faithful to the teachings of Christ.

I used to believe that I was “signed-sealed-and-as-good-as-delivered” to the eternal realm.

I used to look at one event in my life and cite it when I thought about that ultimate question: if you died tonight, where will you end up?

But the answer to that has everything to do with living out the faith by saying yes to daily grace than it does to something I did (prayed) when I was in second grade.

I’m in my middle-sized spiritual clothes right now. And what happens next depends on my ongoing yes to God.

When the Son of Man returns, He will divide the people. Sheep and goats. No middle-sized clothes in that moment. The day of decision is over. If you cared for the least of these, daily making good choices, daily giving your yes to His inspirations, then you will go off into eternal reward.

If you did not care for the least of these, daily choosing to just get through life, indulge in your own little world, refusing to give in to His inspirations, then you will go off into everlasting punishment.

Right about now, I’d like my Protestant confidence that I am signed-sealed-and-as-good-as-delivered to heavenly bliss.

But not all who say to him, “Lord, Lord…” will enter the Kingdom. Only he who does the Father’s will. Daily. Today.

This is the middle ground where eternity hangs in a balance.

Even that holy man, St. Paul, wrestled with his final finish line. To be like St. Paul is to recognize that we are running a race, so as not to be disqualified. So as not to be the one who says, but Lord, don’t you know me?

I’d like to be confident that my skinny jeans will fit again. I’d like to be confident enough in that fact that I can throw out those fat jeans.

But I know me.

I am weak.

Spiritually speaking, I am also weak. And so is everyone that is still living on this earth. If we are prone to go through life and not see Jesus in our neighbor, the poor, the immigrant, the unborn, the priest, the forgotten, the sick, the aging – then we are weak.

Because, if we cannot see Christ in them, Christ will not recognize us on that day when we want most of all to be recognized and called friend.

I long to hear the words: Well done, good and faithful servant. Enter into the kingdom prepared for you.

We are saved by grace. Our yes to grace yields more faith and more inclination to say yes to good works in Christ Jesus.

I have faith that those skinny jeans will fit.

But faith without works won’t get me in them.

Believing is not enough. Not when it comes to self-control in eating choices.

And not when it comes to eternity. For even the demons believe, and tremble.

Christian belief must lead to Christian action.

Loving Christ is easy. It’s easy to love someone who gave up everything for you. Loving Christ in others – ah, there’s the rub.


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