One sunny day on the lake (one of the 134 per year) I saw a young man in a small inflatable dingy rowing towards me from across the lake. Every time he would pull an oar the craft would spin a lot and go forward a little. When he beached I asked; "Do you know why it took you so long to get here and why the dingy spins so much?" "No," he said. "I don't." The teacher in me surfaced immediately and I told him that the oars were too short so that the power stroke was too close to the boat, making it easy to spin but harder to go forward.
Have you heard the analogy of the "faith oar" and the "works oar" that is supposed to describe how one lives the Christian life? I've been thinking about this and I am convinced this is wrongheaded.
And why is it wrongheaded? Because it suggest (strongly) that one makes forward progress with faith and works. But what about the text that says '...all of our righteousness is like filthy rags'?
I want to propose the idea that both oars are faith and that our works are the burgee. And what is a burgee? It's that little triangular flag mounted forward on the rail of the pulpit (on the bow of the boat). It's about eighteen inches long, a foot high, and has a unique design that identifies the vessel as belonging to a particular yacht club.
We get to heaven by our faith in Jesus Christ and His grace alone; period. However, our works, which we do for Jesus because He loves us, died for us, and has saved us from our sins and cleansed us in His blood, are better represented by the design of our burgee. It tells everyone who sights us on the waters that we belong to Jesus Christ.
To go in a straight line in our own little rowboat we need oars of faith that are long enough to keep us from going in circles and a burgee that tells the world that heaven is home port!
God Bless. e.c. [Thank you Jeane for the idea] [Thank you Lord for Jeane]