THE VANITY OF OUR NOBLE WORKS WITHOUT LOVE AND FAITH
What is highly valued among men is detestable in God’s sight. 1— JESUS
For the most part, the noble things we carry out have no value before God, life as a whole, and, in the end, ourselves.
We, however, dedicate ourselves to performing numerous works of vanity as we disguise them as compassion.
Men’s works are vanities. Even the noblest of them are tainted with a void of real meaning.
In the limited realm of existence as we know it, Jesus was the only one who accomplished God’s and man’s works to the deepest fullness.
Yet, He didn’t do anything!
Yes—what did Jesus do?
For sure, any disciple will reply, “Jesus healed. Jesus did good. Jesus rescued people from death. Jesus gave those who called on Him the joy of forgiveness. Jesus loved. Jesus died. Jesus resurrected and appeared to some disciples. Jesus ascended into Heaven. Jesus is my God and Savior! Jesus will come back! Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega! Jesus is the Lord of everyone and everything!”
However, hardly any of such disciples who affirm these things as “superb”, as the supreme work of God, are able to celebrate these very things in their own lives unless they are accompanied by additional works.
The one who heals wants to set up a Healing Center. The one who does good wants to found a NGO. The one who preaches has to create a Mission. The one who forgives has to write a Book on it. The one who thinks himself/herself dead thinks it’s all over to him/her and desires to make History. The one who says he/she believes the resurrection flees from death in every way and puts up a Building. The one who says Jesus will come back lives a hopeless life, although he/she desires to own a major Ministry.
Therefore, for the most part, the noble things we carry out have no value before God, life as a whole, and, in the end, ourselves, because they are not truth and they are not love.
To us, God’s work is demonstrated by…
Numbers, buildings, statistics, prestige;
The reputation of being holy, intellectually and morally honest, socially engaged;
The choosing of good causes, the dedication to advance the “Gospel’s” visibility, the appearances of disciples on the mass media in a “good and worthy” manner;
The compassion noticeable to the senses through an appearance of what is good, the dedication to the so-called “causes of the Church” as a “kingdom”, the service to the anointed leaders;
The evangelistic planning, the theology courses, the beautiful temples, the stereotyped tenderness, the vanities concerning being, belonging, having, showing off, ambitioning, conquering, dying…
Some want to be the well-doers; some, the healers; some, the prophets; some, the masters; some, the creators; some, the best quotation-conveyers; some, the thinkers; some, the makers; some, the constructors; some, the builders; some, the articulators; some, the in-depth intellectuals; some, the most sensitive; some, the most daring; some, the most well-educated…
But nobody wants to do the work of God.
The work of God is in doing the will of my Father, said Jesus.
The will of my Father…
Doing the Father’s will is the work of God.
Of course! Doing the will is doing the work.
The will wants to be made into the work in the life of every willing person. The human willingness, when mixed with and surrendered to God’s will, accomplishes the Father’s work.
“But what about the Father’s will? Who knows it?”
Well, this is always the question of the one who doesn’t want to do the Father’s will.
It’s like the rich young ruler’s question: “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” Or like the lawyer’s: “Who is my neighbor?” Or like Pilate’s: “What is truth?”
His voice goes out into all the Earth, and His words to the ends of the world!
Even the one who knows nothing about God’s revelation—whether from Scripture or embodied in Jesus— gets to know God’s will when he/she fears God and seeks after what is good.
God’s will is stirred as an operating impulse within everyone who loves Him. Because everyone—whoever it may be—who loves knows God, since God is love. Thus, everyone who loves has been born of God, and, because of that, carries the divine seed within. And this seed is love.
So, the one who loves knows God and has been born of God, and that’s why he/she loves everyone and everything God has created. If anyone, any place whatever, fears God and loves his/her neighbor, he/she knows God, because God is love.
In this way, such a person—with no name, no schooling, no revelation, no training, no teachings, no historical information, and with nothing that we think to be essential to knowledge, being, building up, reaching out, ambitioning, and achieving—knows God more than theologians, masters, mentors, pastors, priests, scholars, etc, do. This is true if the latter have knowledge but don’t live up to it; get learned but don’t believe; affirm things but don’t embody them; have inner struggles but don’t lift one finger; pile up information but don’t let anything into their hearts.
In order to know God’s will you only have to love truly. Everyone who loves always knows what to do. But by love, here, I mean love. It’s love according to God.
No one has ever seen a human being who is full of love not knowing what to do!
A love that doesn’t do God’s will is nothing but a religious and theological romantic affair.
In the very end, and then only, do most of them realize—already on the threshold of this life, in the last minute—that they have struggled for matters that didn’t matter, they have given themselves up to what was not as it didn’t do the Father’s will. Instead, it only met the demands of the noble activities of those who only speak, say, teach, and regret, but don’t really do a thing, because what they do don’t fill up their hearts. The heart is only fulfilled in the simple work of love.
The rest is nothing but pious and vain noble vanity boasting of its meaninglessness.
Without love, I gain nothing.
Think about it!
April 24, 2007
From the original: “A VAIDADE DA NOBREZA DO NOSSO LABOR SEM AMOR E FÉ”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | May 2007
1 Luke 15:16 (NIV)