Why do we care that a Christian is lazy if God saves the Christian who doesn’t work? And we do care — very much. And we should.
I think it’s because those who are more mature care about the things of God. Lazy Christians don’t convert the lost — and we love the lost. Lazy Christians don’t feed the poor — and we love the poor. Lazy Christians don’t care for their brothers and sisters as they should — and we love our brothers and sisters.
But it’s even deeper. You see, the mature have been reshaped enough into God’s image that we have a sense of what the world could be like if Christians were to be transformed into God’s image and truly live as followers of Jesus. It’s hard to imagine in detail — but the beauty of that possibility draws us and entices us. We just know that things would be so much better — if only we’d live what we’ve been called to.
And when we see Christians given so much do so little with what they’ve been given, we become frustrated — as God is as well — because we’ve seen transformation. We’ve seen hints of God’s ability to re-invent people, churches, and even neighborhoods. We can envision a much, much better world — and it kills us inside when we see so many of God’s children content with salvation but with no notion of what God really wants us to be.
Ponder — seriously meditate on — what drives you just nuts when you see Christians aim so low and achieve so little. You see, it really is about much, much more and deeper things than fear for their souls — not that you shouldn’t fear for their souls. But it’s more. It’s lost opportunities. It’s a lack of understanding of the real power and purposes of God.
I remember hearing a story of a newlywed couple who honeymooned in the Poconos. (This was many years ago.) They were kind of backwoods, you know. Over dinner they met some friends and enjoyed an evening together. Their new friends realized that the couple didn’t get the jokes they made about sex. The couple had never been taught by their parents or friends (remember “Coal Miner’s Daughter”?) — and they were on their honeymoon!
Of course, their new friends took them aside and taught them about the birds and the bees — because, having experienced the joys of sex, they felt compelled to share the good news!
And to me, for those who see Christianity through Skinnerian, legalistic eyes, it’s like they’re newlyweds who know nothing about sex. Yes, there is much to enjoy about marriage other than sex — but what a crying shame not to understand and get to experience life with a gracious God!
When someone asks me why I obey when I believe in salvation by faith, not works, I feel like I’m talking to someone who says “Why have sex with your wife when you know she won’t divorce you if you don’t?” Obviously, such a person has never had sex with his wife! And how do you answer that kind of a question?
Well, I try my best to explain the birds and bees of my marriage to God — the utter joys of living in grace and the motivation that creates.
But then I’m stuck with dealing with the very real reality of lazy Christians. They are hard to explain — and understand — but we’re getting there.