On December 6 we will remember Nicholas, 4th century bishop of Myra, known for his compassionate generosity to the poor and needy. Thinking about it reminded me of a recent conversation with a gathering of local clergy where talk quickly turned to examples of people who have been icons of the Christian life.
There is nothing wrong with talking about those examples. They are all worthy of remembering, but it occurred to me that we almost always use examples of the godly lives of others to deflect useful conversation about how, or whether, we, you and I, are agents in our ordinary daily lives of God’s redeeming and reconciling work through Jesus Christ.
Our clergy group tried to wrestle with that, but, for the most part, it ended up being a recitation of good deeds that could just as well been attributed to any local service club or well intentioned atheist doing what they can for the good of the community. None of that is bad. It’s all good. But where is the good news that the kingdom of God has come near or is at hand? How do we, as Christians, go about doing our good deeds with the light of Christ shining through? It’s a hard question.
For one thing, many of us have been beat about the head and shoulders by Christian do gooders demanding that we acknowledge Jesus as our personal lord and savior as they go about their work. The kingdom of God seems strangely distant when that happens. So we go about our work with no outward sign that it might be infused with God’s grace because we don’t want to be accused of bludgeoning someone with a bible.
Perhaps you have some thoughts on the matter, and I’d like to read them. What I don’t want is your story of someone else’s good work. What do you do in your daily life that others would recognize as something of the kingdom of God becoming present in their lives? Would they ever connect that with your being a Christian?