I have tried for 2 days to upload a video I created, but I am still struggling to figure out what I am doing wrong this time. For now, I am letting that idea go and thought I would just write out my thoughts. I was hopeful that creating a video would give space for my ramblings to feel more like a conversation you are having with a friend.
I am still focusing on Don Miguel Ruiz’s book, The Four Agreements, and what I can learn about being Impeccable with my word. The past few days, I spent time thinking about how our words communicate, our body language communicates, and our actions communicate a message. Our life sends a message to the world. What would it look like for people of faith to live impeccably? Do our actions matter since God loves no matter what?
Many conversations I have been having lately still pit two ideas against each other. One says that we come to God by Grace and Grace alone. Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God-not the result of works-so that no one can boast.”
On the other side, we have faith in action following James 2:14-26, “What good is it if you say you have faith, but do not have works? If a brother or sister is lacking in daily food and you say, ‘Go in peace. Keep warm and eat your fil,’ yet you do nothing to supply their needs-What good is that? So, faith by itself if it has not works is dead.”
I grew up thinking that I needed to earn my keep with God. I tried hard to follow in the ways of Jesus as I understood them. I would beat myself up for not being the perfect child of God. I have many friends who began here and we are “recovering works” people. I hear so many stories of people like me having “Ah Ha!” moments when they realized that God’s grace is a gift that they don’t have to earn. They celebrate the freedom from the burden of earning God’s love! Sometimes though, I see the pendulum swing too far away from works. Viktor Frankl was correct in saying that freedom is only freedom if it is lived in terms of responsibility.
For me, I am getting rid of the whole idea of works vs grace. I think the words are religious language that do not communicate well anymore. Too many people don’t understand the word grace and others cringe when they hear talk about works.
There are many ways to communicate living a life in full devotion to God, but for me this whole discussion could be articulated more clearly by saying that Christians are called to cultivate a mindful practice. A mindful practice recognizes that grace by faith informs our actions and our actions proclaim our faith. I see the two ideas coming together as 1 continuous loop where there is no distinction between the two.
In yoga, I realized that what I was thinking about could best be illustrated with the breath. Grace is like the inhale where we breathe in deep fueling every cell of our body and the exhale is like the movement/action/work that naturally follows. If I swing too far and abuse grace, it is like I am constantly inhaling, inhaling, inhaling…..without the ability to exhale. If I swing too far trying to work my way to God, then it is like I am continually exhaling, exhaling, exhaling….without the ability to inhale. Either way is not sustainable.
Together, I am able to enter the flow….inhale, exhale, inhale, exhale.