Thursday, August 18, 2005

fire insurance?

Today on my lunch break a co worker explained his philosophy of life to me:

“there are three kinds of people in this world: purely evil people, people on the other end of the spectrum like priests and stuff, and then the normal people in the middle who aren’t too bad but make mistakes from time to time. That’s where I live. God’s gonna have to take me as I am cause it’s too late to change now.”

Finding some common ground in his statement, “God’s gonna have to take me as I am…” (there is a hymn called “Just as I Am” after all – and we all know that hymns are infallible, as long as they were written at least 100 years ago…sorry I’m feeling a bit sarcastic at the moment) I explained that the unique thing about Christ is that He offers grace, not karma (the idea that our future fate will be decided based on our present actions) an illustration that I totally ripped off of Bono, believe it or not. I went on to explain a bit more about how we are all sinners and in need of grace and there is no one who has or will ever achieve holiness on their own (Romans 3:23) and that is why we need Christ and His death and resurrection as payment for our sins to get to heaven. Then the conversation ended. I went back to work feeling like a mini-Billy. Billy Graham that is.

But now as I sit on the train to Los Angeles listening to the Beatle’s Eleanor Rigby I realize that I only presented part of the Gospel. I presented the Good News of Christ as merely a get-out-of-Hell free program, an eternal fire insurance plan. I might as well buy a cheap suit, make business cards, and slick my hair back with ultra-sheen oil. I made no mention of how receiving Christ’s invasion of your life affects your thoughts, emotions, and actions in the here and now. My co-worker was willing to believe in a God who didn’t care about what we think and do now, just as long as we say some magic words sometime towards the end of our life and then we can enjoy Him forever. He believed that God couldn’t and probably wouldn’t even want to bother changing Him now.

I was so afraid of presenting a works earned salvation (which is no salvation at all) that I failed to mention that the result or fruit of salvation is good works that show our love of God and other people – in that order. Christianity isn’t just about the future it is about the present. If a relationship with Christ can’t do anything to change me from the pitiful creature I am into someone who radiates the love of God, then I don’t know why I would even want to know Him. Cause just as I need hope for my eternal being, I need just as much hope to get through the next day. I once heard Howard Hendricks say, speaking about the Bible, “most people aren’t asking, ‘is this true?’ They are asking, ‘does this work’?” God doesn’t want to just wait until we are in Heaven; He wants to live in us now. He wants to give us an entirely new identity, right here and now. If we truly have saving faith we will be showing it in our daily lives, not that we will be perfect, but there will be a continual progression towards loving, delightful obedience to God (I John 1:5-8)

God please grant me another conversation with this person and give me the strength to tell your Good News – all of it.

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