When I was a child, I spent many nights with my grandfather. Afflicted with polio before his first birthday, he lived with great disability but he lived as though he were as whole as any man. It is understatement to say that a book could be written on my grandfather’s life as encouragement for anybody who suffers limitation or infirmity.
Grandpa had an ancient school clock hanging on his living room wall. I can still hear the tick and the chime of that grand old clock, which now hangs in my mother’s home.
Sometimes in the night I would awaken after the sounds of neighborhood life had stilled and the night had laid down its blanket of peaceful quiet and I would lie in my bed listening to the steady “tick, tock, tick, tock” of Grandpa’s clock. Now and then I could tell that the clock had been bumped and was now ticking irregularly. Tilted too much to the right or too much to the left, the imperfect tempo was unsettling to me and I would go to the living room and move the clock until my ear was satisfied that the “ticking” and the “tocking” matched in perfect rhythm.
Everything in existence, all of the components that comprise our universe, all of it moves according to divine rhythm and balance. Day is balanced against night; hot balances against cold. The opposite of “up” is “down.” All of God’s creation moves in perfect synchronized balance and order.
This balance, this divine equilibrium is lost when man misrepresents or misinterprets God’s character and His word.
Within the church currently exists a growing “all or none” distortion of God’s meanings concerning grace and work. This perversion is visible in the “all grace” or the “no grace” camps. Both extreme views are flawed. The “works” faction complains that the “grace people” lack reverence and respect for God; that they believe they can get away with sin since God’s grace covers every error man might commit, either willfully or ignorantly. Extreme “Grace people” argue that it’s all grace or no grace; that either we rest fully in grace and ignore any effort, works or labor or we must put all our trust in the works we do for God.
James understood the conflict and observed simply; “faith without works is dead.” Both faith and works are required components of divine balance. Works do not negate faith and faith does not exclude works – that is, so long as these are divinely balanced.
Colossians 3 provides the “works” of those “who have been raised with Christ”:
Seek those things where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.
Put to death your members which are on the earth: fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Put off: anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language. Do not lie to one another,
And then, “as the elect of God, holy and beloved,”
Put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering;
Bear with one another,
Forgive one another,
Put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
“Seek” and “set.” “Put to death” and “put off.” “Put on” and “bear,” “forgive” and once more, “put on.”
If the collective Body of Christ would engage in these works, God would provide the balance. James, the “works” guy also wrote, “He giveth more grace.”
A young boy lay in his bed in the middle of the night, listening to his grandfather’s clock “tick, tock, tick tock” in perfect rhythm; and he closed his eyes in sleep, and he rested.