Thinking Both And or Neither

Yesterday I played with words. I liked the name and marketing of an old software company, Think and Do and turned it into a spiritual formation challenge—Faith and Do.

That in itself was playing with another pair of words, usually set up as an either/or statement. This has been argued and worried over for more than 1,000 years—faith versus works is how it’s usually portrayed.

My brain looks at all dichotomies presented to it and automatically begins to look for either both/and or neither alternatives.

Maybe someone presents you with the choice of attending this megachurch or or that megachurch. Perhaps you look and decide neither. There is another alternative of a smaller house fellowship much like the early church described in Acts.

People in the gospels were presented with an early either/or choice—John (the Baptiser) or Jesus.

Actually, it was not necessarily a choice. John had a ministry to prepare the way for Jesus. (I cannot think those words without hearing the song from Godspell.) John challenged people to change their ways and prepare their hearts for the coming of the Messiah.

Jesus came and built on that momentum. He showed how to live in this new Kingdom of God once the way was prepared. There’s more to the story, of course, but this will do for now.

We can think of this remaining couple of weeks of Advent as a time of John. We prepare our hearts for the coming of Jesus, celebrated on Christmas Day. First this, then that. Once we have prepared for the journey we must then actually travel.

This is a time of recreating that preparation for many of us. For others it may be the first preparation. That’s Advent.

But then we must actually go. Like Jesus left us with—a commandment to love God and our neighbor and a commission to go and make disciples. We celebrate this on Christmas Day. Then the days following, we go.

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