My Broken Road to Grace: Post Twenty Two (Are You Doing Your Part or Do You Just have Fire Insurance?)
Some years ago I sat in a Sunday School class taught by my younger brother. As I listened to him I began to grasp that what he saying was far more profound and revealing than I might have originally thought. What he said was this. "Some people are content to become do nothing Christians, yes they believe, they accept Christ as their Savior, acquiring what they think of as fire insurance for eternity but that is where it stops. They might or might not attend church, if so, they rarely become involved to any further extent and simply sit back and rest on their laurels content to let others do what is required to further The kingdom of God."
I heard those words at a time when I was struggling with my own spirituality and even then they had a profound effect on me. "Why" I thought "would someone become involved in something, whether it be a church or a bowling league, in such a halfhearted manner?" I must confess some of that thought process had more to do with who I was brought up to be than what I really believed in my heart at that time.
My father, a building contractor and a bi-vocational Baptist Minister, was never one to shy away from work. In fact he loved it, in any form, better than anyone I have ever known. It really didn't matter whether he was splitting firewood or preaching a revival service, he approached them both with equal vigor. I can remember him saying as we were growing up "Why do something at all if only halfway? If you are going to do a task, commit to it and do it right." Those words still resonated with me so many years later and as I thought about the topic on which my brother spoke. Naturally my thoughts ran parallel with that opinion.
Strangely however, as I asked myself the question over and over, no clear answer came to mind. Was it laziness, apathy, ignorance or was there some bigger and more prevalent reason hiding somewhere in all of this instead of sticking out like a sore thumb for me to readily grasp. My first inclination was to say "OK the main problem has to be insincerity, these people, even though claiming to, don't really believe and aren't really committed to the cause. If they were they would be willing to become more involved, to give more of themselves and their time."
At first glance this assessment made sense, after all, I was to a great degree one of those people, having doubts myself at the time about the entire process of salvation, I was essentially going through the motions, attending church, keeping my children involved even giving my money but that is where it stopped. Although I had been with my father on many occasions when he shared the plan of salvation with a waitress, a check out girl or a gas station attendant, I would never in a million years do that.
First of all, albeit my fault, I was nothing close to as familiar as he was with the scriptures and secondly, my personal opinion was, that if had tried to do so my approach and presentation would have been clumsy and ill fitting. Finally, at that time, the overwhelming reason for my not doing so was my own personal doubt. Think about it, it takes a super salesman to effectively market something that he isn't 100% sold on right?
As time passed the question came and went through my thought processes, I suspect usually hanging around somewhere pretty close the the surface, a function that I now see clearly as the work of the Holy Spirit, as it moved to mold and shape me to reach the place in my life that it wanted me to be. The solid answer came to me in the most unexpected of ways in a conversation that was1000 miles away from where you would expect it as it often proves to be. The answer was so simple, it was almost too obvious.
A friend and I, sat in a restaurant bar one afternoon after work taking advantage as we often did of the 2 for 1 happy hour specials. A few drinks in, the universal lubricant had begun to relax our minds and loosen our tongues a bit allowing me to summon the courage to ask a question that I otherwise might never have asked. This friend, I knew to be a smart and talented man, for the most part well liked and easy to get along with and yet in his day to day dealings, He seemed to be the master at cutting corners and taking shortcuts even if it meant stepping into a gray area from time to time, a practice that I found disgusting and intriguing simultaneously.
Even still, I summoned the courage and boldly and bluntly asked him why. I will never forget what he said. As he sat and stared back across the table his response was this, "Why, you want to know why, because I can, because it is available, because in all my years of doing it, no one has ever called my hand, so why not?" I could not believe my ears, this guy, not known for his honesty had just been brutally so and had cleared up for me in one feel swoop, the answer to many questions in my life, not the least of which was the one I had posed earlier spurred by my brothers comments.
People do things in contradiction to what is right or expected, because they can, without fear of consequences. It is in our carnal and sinful nature. You see God saves us if we genuinely accept Him as our Lord and King and He doesn't want it to stop there. He is not however going to send a lighting strike to wake us up and make us serve him if upon accepting Him as savior we sit back then and do nothing more. It is up to us to love Him, be grateful for the magnitude of the gift He has given and to choose to put ourselves into His service as a showing of that gratitude. In doing so then He wants us to work faithfully to bring everyone, rich or poor, young and old, happy and sad into the fold as Christians.
Colossians 1:27-29 says: "To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me." The words "all" in that verse are clear and indisputable. He wants us to work to bring "all" to Him, indiscriminate of our personal feelings. Of course, whether or not we do so is up to us.
It is my belief that you can be a Christian and do little, even nothing to further the cause of Christ. While it may cause others to question your sincerity, the Bible makes it clear that we are not to judge one another. Salvation is an extremely personal experience and only you know whether or not you are sincere. It is for me however an undeniable fact that in doing nothing you suffer as you miss out on some of the greatest experiences of your life, rewards if you will, that are made available to you as you serve Him daily.
Yes, like my friend from years ago, you can choose to do nothing because you simply can, because it is avaialble to you. Or like me, you can finally wake up one day and realize that loving and serving God is the most wonderful, glorious experience that anyone can imagine. That Christ is real and vibrant and at work in the world today, that He can and will change your life and will take you by the hand and lead you where He wants you to be if you will only let Him. To be sure my friends, until the day he takes us home to Heaven, there simply is no better place to be.