lent 2013 001bTry to learn what pleases the Lord.

(Ephesians chapter 5 verse 10, GNB)

It might seem obvious to a committed Christian that pleasing the Lord, pleasing Jesus, doing what God wants, is precisely what we should be doing all the time. But how do we know? Yes, read the Bible, of course, but that still has to be interpreted. Yes, following the prompting of the Holy Spirit – but those promptings have to be tested to make sure they are from God and not from an overactive imagination.

I think what I have learnt is that learning what pleases the Lord is not something we can do very well on our own. That means listening to our brothers and sisters in Christ, to those who are also willing to learn what pleases Him – and actually to put it into practice. So when I read the Bible I might also read a commentary, or I listen to what is preached on Sunday, or have a conversation at dinner. There are times when I get hold of something better after a good discussion; or rather, I know what I believe after an argument with someone who disagrees with me. That might not be what family meal time is intended for, but it does help that the people who answer back are not trying to flatter you!

I was stopped the other day by someone who wanted to convert me to Christianity. It was a difficult conversation because they seemed to think that if I was wearing a clerical collar it meant that I needed saving. I tried to explain that just because I went to a different church to his and used a liturgy, it did not mean I was prevented from loving our Lord and Saviour; in fact I had said ‘yes’ to Him, had accepted his grace and was doing my best to follow Jesus (albeit imperfectly). Well, we swapped Bible verses a few times but it was not a proper conversation. He kept telling that I should do such and such – and I would tell him I already did. Or he would say something like “You can’t earn a place in heaven; all your rituals and good works don’t mean you’re going to heaven.” and I would confuse him by agreeing with him. I’m sorry to say I ended up just wishing the dialogue would end.

I don’t always know if I have pleased the Lord, but I am willing to try to learn.

A prayer from “Common Worship”

Eternal God, give us insight to discern your will for us, to give up what harms us, and to seek the perfection we are promised in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (Additional Collect, Lent 3)