So, let me get this straight. No matter how many good deeds I do, no matter how many rules I follow, no matter how many times I go to church, no matter how “good” I am, I cannot make myself right with God? It won’t save my soul or give me eternal life? Really?
That’s right. And, this isn’t some new, feel-good, easy-to-do, new-age, gentle “religion”. This is old Gospel truth. The only thing that you can do is have faith the Jesus can give you all of that. He can make all that happen. And there is nothing you can do to earn it. And, none of us deserves it. He does it out of love for us. Crazy, isn’t it?
Okay. So, I can just hole up with my faith and to heck with everybody else then? Well, no. If we love God with all our heart, mind and soul, and love our neighbor as ourselves, then we will want to follow God’s rules (not people’s mis-guided interpretations of God’s rules) and do good deeds for other. But we will do both because we love God and love others, not because we have to.
In the South in particular, but not exclusively, we are pretty good about being faithful to one law – the Covered Dish Commandment. “Thou shalt cover thy casserole and bear it up unto those who are suffering.” But we must abide by this law out of love not out of fear, not out of a need to belong, not in order to be proud of ourselves, and not to show off our mastery of an old family recipe.
So, what do we do? What if we can’t cook? We do whatever we can. We all have strengths and talents. We must use them. We must do big things and small things. It doesn’t take unique talents or rare strengths to be kind to others. And, if we do kind things for others, even if we cannot find it in our heart to love them, the act of kindness might just let that love shine through.