Position and disposition

Monday Musings for November 30, 2020

Good morning, Musers,

Do you think that, in your lifetime, you will accomplish everything God has sent you to earth to do? I do not. But that doesn’t stop me from doing the work that God has put in front of me. That’s the secret to the Christian life: don’t stop… and realize that, although you can pray for other people and help them in certain ways, you are responsible for the work God put in front of you — not the work God put in front of them.

The thing we want to avoid is being a spiritual goldbrick. A goldbrick is a shirker — a person who thinks that, because of his intrinsic value, he doesn’t have to work toward his assigned objectives. The result is that he sits there like a brick of gold — just being valuable in his own eyes — while the rest of us do his share of the work.

I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, though. We do have intrinsic worth. We were made in the image of God! (Genesis 1:26). And things get even better for the believer: when we say “yes” to Christ, we become children of God (John 1:12) — which are even more valuable!

This is why we believers are supposed to “imitate” Christ — and let me say right up front — if anyone had the right to goldbrick, it was he. But Jesus laid his rights aside — not only to serve us — but to sacrifice himself for us. Where a goldbrick is a shirker, Jesus is a guy who took care of business (Hebrews 12:2). But does his “business” stop there? Consider this.

We evangelicals preach the gospel; its bare-bones message says that Jesus saves us — not that we save us. But so many people insist that they must do something, too… like get baptized, take sacraments or do good works — which are anti-salvific notions — that we dodge talking about works at all… lest the “idea” of good works contaminates the salvation message. This is wrongheaded. Here’s why.

No version of biblical Christianity does not include believers doing good works! That’s what discipleship is — and making disciples is our objective! (Matthew 28:18-20). The only way to accomplish this is to trust people with the truth: Jesus didn’t save us so we could be something; he saved us so we would do something. God has works that he wants us to do.

So, here’s the thing: the process of getting saved is opposite from the process of being a saved person. With the former, no works are involved… and I think it is wise to remove them during conversion conversations as far as the east is from the west. But people don’t spend much time at the point of conversion. They spend most of their time as believers… where good works should be their constant companion.

Why am I so hopped-up about this? Because it’s hard to know who’s who. Although good works have nothing to do with saving us, they have everything to do with proving that we are saved — and that’s where we live. There is no way for people to know our position in Christ without seeing our dis-position in Christ, and this can only happen through doing good works.

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