Bill Belichick, coach of the NE Patriot football team, is known for his team philosophy: “Do your job!” He’s a no-nonsense coach who expects that every man on the squad will perform at the highest level so that the team will benefit. Everyone matters. From the weight room to the practice field, Belichick reminds young often undisciplined players that they are there to win games. That is ‘the’ job. Apparently the coach is onto something. The Pats have an enviable record of wins.
Our Coach, (Parakletos) the Holy Spirit, asks the same of us, Christian. God saves us and brings us into His Church, the Body of Christ, so we can become an effective, fruitful person, making a difference in our daily lives because we love Him. We are mistaken if we believe that our faith is confined to an hour’s devotion on Sunday morning to secure our heavenly home for that hopefully distant moment of earthly departure arrives. Yes, I hear the objections – “Jerry, my relationship with God is based on faith. Are you telling me that I have to earn my place in heaven?” Our peace with God, the promise of salvation, IS NOT the result of our religious efforts. Let’s go back and underline that. However, we are saved to serve and God is telling us – ‘Do your job!’
Yesterday, considered part of the story of Nehemiah, the rebuilder of Jerusalem and the Temple of the Lord. The account inspires us and reveals a deep faith and diligent commitment. Both were important in bringing about the restoration of Jerusalem. Nehemiah heard about the sorry state of the city and his first response was prayer. He knew that ultimate success depended on God. The godly man also put his own life on the line. He left a job in the king’s court taking up a difficult challenge that involved read hardship. When the work started, he met each obstacle in the same way – praying and trusting God while making practical plans. I love one short phrase that perfectly captures the blend of faith and our work. When he was told that enemies were preparing an attack, he “prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat.” (Nehemiah 4:9, NIV)
I trust God to complete His work in me and through me but I am not passive nor will I just sit around waiting to be rescued. It is my privilege to become a disciplined part of His work, His Spirit working in me and through me. Paul, who knew God’s saving grace, who trusted completely in Christ Jesus, also says that what God has done for us has a consequence for everyday life. “Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed-not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence-continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.” (Philippians 2:12-13, NIV)
God’s wonderful gift of grace does not exempt us from personal responsibility. Somehow that idea has slipped into the minds of Christians today. We fail to remember that the Word which promises us grace we could never deserve also teaches us the law of the harvest, that the seeds we plant produce the crop we harvest. “The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.” (Galatians 6:8, NIV)
Are you a passive Christian? Have you mistakenly assumed that there is nothing to do except wait for Heaven? Let’s take the model of Nehemiah, loving God and leaning into His Presence in daily prayer, opening our hearts and minds to His truth and transformation by the practice of the disciplines of the Spirit. Do your job. “Pray and post a guard!”
Here is a word from the Word. “Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so that we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” (Ephesians 2:9-10, NLT) Do your job!
Jesus calls me, I must follow,
Follow Him today.
When His tender voice is pleading,
How can I delay?
Follow, I will follow Thee, my Lord;
Follow ev’ry passing day.
My tomorrows are all known to Thee,
Thou wilt lead me all the way.
Howard L. Brown | Margaret W. Brown © New Spring (Admin. by Brentwood-Benson Music Publishing, Inc.)