What Must I Do?

June 28, 2022

Hebrews 11.5-6

By faith Enoch was taken from this life, so that he did not experience death: “He could not be found, because God had taken him away.” For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God. And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

The gospels tell the story of a man who asks Jesus, “What must I do to inherit eternal life?” (Matthew 19.16-22; Mark 10.17-22; Luke 18.18-23)  One could conclude from those stories, if we take them outside of their full context, that we could stop sinning and do good to all and then deserve that place in eternal life.  But neither the story of Enoch, or the story of this man with Jesus, put us there. 

It is not because Enoch was so good, but because Enoch had faith.  The writer of Hebrews shows that Enoch was taken to be with God because he had faith.  Without faith it is impossible to please God.  It is because Enoch was earnestly seeking God.  And as he sought God in faith, God rewarded him with the gift of life.

The stories do not tell us that doing good, or being good, is futile.  It puts it into perspective.  Not living in the best way we can to get a reward.  It is living as best as we are able now because we have been promised the gift of life, and we have seen the beginnings of that promise already fulfilled in life now.  God gives us life as we live in the faith he has given us.  It is just as we used to sing in the old hymn, Not What My Hands Have Done, the final verse:

I praise the Christ of God;
I rest on love divine;
and with unfaltering lip and heart
I call this Savior mine.
My Lord has saved my life
and freely pardon gives;
I love because he first loved me,
I live because he lives.

SongNot What My Hands Have Done

Prayer

Christ, through your death our old selves are crucified, put to death, and buried with you.  Do not allow the evil desires of the flesh to continue to rule us.  But that instead may we dedicate ourselves as an offering of gratitude to you.  Amen. — Based on Heidelberg Catechism, Q&A 43

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