Sometimes we overlook the obvious. We can be so intent on trying to be the best Christian we can that we forget that we are that when we do quite simple things; I can exercise my discipleship quite effectively in doing my daily round, if I do it in the spirit of God; my everyday life should be infused with my spiritual life, not in some way apart from it.
There is here part of the constant temptation of a form of gnostic Manicheism where we separate out the things of the spirit from those of the flesh and imagine that all the latter are filthy and all the former pure; but we are in the flesh for a reason, and we ought not to forget that in his Incarnation, Our Lord sanctifies this sinful flesh. It is true that for the sake of convenience the Fathers often spoke about the flesh in opposition to the things of the Spirit, but they did not mean us to take things literally – our faith is a call to the sanctification of the flesh – and we shall be resurrected bodily, we shall not be disembodied spirits. We’re not going to be floating around on any cloud strumming a harp, we’re going to be living in God’s world the way God wanted it to be from the beginning, so we’d best get started on the process as soon as possible.
If I confess, I would say that I do not always give God the priority he should have, but I hope that in the things I do for other folk, I do it in his name, and in wanting to do the best I can, I reflect that; if a thing’s worth doing, as my old mum used to say, it’s worth doing properly.
Modern man is used to being the measure of all things, and highly resistant to any idea to the contrary. He, and he alone, will decide what the standards are and how he will fulfill them. This is not the Christian point of view. When I was a lad I had a view that God was watching everything I did. Childish, you might think, but it saved me from going astray a time or four, and I’ve tended to stick with it; it’s a good protection. I still ask myself would I do whatever it is I am tempted to do if God could see me, because, of course, He is the Just Judge, He is the ultimate arbiter and to HIm and Him alone will I answer. If the answer if at all doubtful, then the policy is don’t do it. I remember that the earliest Christians made a public confession, and there’s something to be said for that I think, at least as an attitude of mind.
I can speak, of course, only for myself, but I find living on some elevated, higher plane hard. It’s good for me to try, and I have a period of meditative prayer every day, but golly Moses (as my old mum, again, used to say) I don’t find it comes easy. I went through a period as a young man when, because of that, I felt a failure as a Christian, with the consequence that I tended to forget the obvious – which was that everything I did witnessed to the hope that was within me, and to forget that because I was a failure at ‘higher end’ Christian practices was foolish, as it effectively meant throwing out the baby with the bath-water.
We should never forget to do the good just because we can’t always (or ever sometimes) do our best. if we are faithful in the small things, we shall, one day, by his Grace, find we have been faithful in the big ones too. Amen.