Many churches throughout the world use a Bible reading schedule called a "lectionary." It's just a fancy word meaning "selected readings." Posts like this reflect on the readings for an upcoming Sunday or other Church holiday, as found in the historic one-year lectionary.
In 2 Peter 1, the apostle describes the walk of the Christian. Though redeemed by Christ, and sustained with him in every way, verse four describes us as vulnerable to corruption due to sinful desire. In short, Peter says we have desires which are sinful. When we act on those desires, not only does it bring us harm, but it also creates trouble for our world. On the contrary, as we pursue what is good, we are protected "from being ineffective or unfruitful" (v. 8, ESV).
Why do we strive toward a moral standard? Why does the Christain try to act ethically? Certainly those are character qualities which God approves. But more importantly, holding a Christian morality allows us to be effective in the whole business of loving and serving our neighbor. That's how we care for others.
We are surrounded by a culture that thinks of Christianity as a moral or ethical code, and perhaps nothing more. I have this conversation regularly with people from non-Christian backgrounds, particularly followers of Islam. They want to tell me that in some essential ways Christianity and Islam are the same. They have a similar ethic, one that calls for dedication, giving to the poor, engaging in prayer, and living in some particular ways in the community. While there are some similarities, however, Christianity is no kind of a moral code. It is not an ethic. It is an application of faith that Jesus, God the Son, the perfectly sinless Lamb of God, has given himself into death so that all who believe on him may have life. That's not an ethic. It's trusting in God taking our place in death, then leading the way for us through his resurrection. It is a unique faith, not some sort of a moral code.
As we pursue what is good, we find we are free to exercise our faith in Christ as it applies to the good of our neighbor. This is Jesus' gracious work in us, and through us, for the good of our world. We want to be effective and fruitful.
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