The Purpose-Riven Life


For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (Ephesians 2:10)

Great. Just great. The good works I’m supposed to do—but am really slow in getting to—aren’t invented as I go along? They’re already in the to-do queue? Are you freaking kidding me? This isn’t the optional bonus glory system I signed up for. So there’s actually a list of as-of-yet undone doings I’m supposed to get done doing? They’re precooked and waiting for me to microwave? I don’t even get to choose them? This changes everything.

Okay, I love being saved as well as the next guy. I probably like it more because I’ve got a whole cartload of stuff I need to be saved from. And I also like the idea that I’m a work of art, though I’m guessing more like one of those clay ashtrays kids used to make for their parents at Cub Scouts before cigarettes started killing people through exposure to the elements as they stand outside their offices smoking in the freezing cold. I even resigned to the fact that God saved me to do good works. But I’ve liked to think of this as potential for a good work or two once in a while if it should become necessary and doesn’t mess with my normal game plan. But this required good works that weren’t exactly required because they didn’t exist yet. So not doing them just meant that they weren’t there in the first place. It was kind of like moral contraception. As long as I didn’t bring them into being I didn’t have to deal with them.

It took me a long time to develop a healthy sense of guilt for my sins of commission. They were optional sins. I was only responsible when I did them. So now I’ve got sins of omission to think about too. Mr. Apostle to the Gentiles is telling me that I’ll be responsible for not doing something. What makes it worse is that I don’t exactly know what those good works which God has prepared in advance for me to do are. Oh yes, I get the general God rules like be nice to inferior people and don’t waste your charity on people who don’t deserve it. But these precooked good works are another matter. How am I supposed to know when I’m not doing them? And what do I get if I take a guess and end up doing some good work that wasn’t on my official to-do list anyway? A total waste of righteousness, that’s what.

I suppose the upside is that doing these prepared good works (if you find out what they are, that is) is like making something from a kit. All the parts are there; all you have to do is stick them together in the right place. There is an advantage of doing something you’re not good at (like good works) by using a kit with everything already cut out. They only thing you have to do is match the letters and numbers and glue them together. So I suppose already prepared good works may be easier to pull off than trying to be good from scratch. But that’s about the only positive thing about them I can think of.

So now I”m stuck with this list of good works I’m suppose to do hanging over my head like the sword of Damocles. Even if I go crazy and try to do them I’ll never really know if I finished up the list before I croak. So there I’ll be standing before the great while throne and God will open up the Book of Omissions and he’ll shake his head and say, “Tsk, tsk, tsk.” Then I’ll probably crap my pants and start bawling like a baby.

Well, you can do whatever you want to about this issue. I, for one, am just going to ignore it.


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