Saturday, July 24, 2010

Working hard for nothing

Yesterday I was shopping at the local family own grocery store, Coborns. A sign indicated that if one buys $50 of food, then they will have 5 cents off every gallon for their next gas purchase. For a culture driven by cheap gas, I was one that wanted to spend $50 just for the heck of it. Why not? To save any money on gas would be an outstanding deal since prices will probably do nothing but go up.

The problem is that if I bought my groceries and the cost ended up being $45 I would automatically buy junk I do not need (ice cream, soda, candy). So in essence my hard work to get to $50 would end up in a $4.40 loss. If one actually did the math, 5 cents off a gallon for our car would equal a savings of .60. THAT IS IT? I thought to myself. I believe many people work hard in the realm of saving money when actually all the hard work gains them nothing but more in debt.

This dynamic is much like our faith life. We hear and see new ideologies that give us the idea that if we just work harder, serve on this board, give more, and go on a missions trip that we will gain more and have that spiritual experience to lift us up higher towards God. This is the ideologies that Paul warns against in Colossians 2:6-15. In those cases Jesus becomes a grocery store that promises great blessings by just doing this or that. However, in the end all the work, all the hope, all the service ends up setting a person back in their faith life. They never get ahead and lose more than they gain. I have been there in thinking that if I just did this or that, I would finally reach a spiritual uptopia and everyone would admire me.

God doesn't work that way. He tells us simply to be "rooted in Christ" and to be listeners to His grace (Luke 10:38-42). And when those things are in place, we serve in mercy to our neighbor. However, that service is done not for our gain, but for the gain of our neighbor and to listen to the commands of Christ. This reality of the Christian life is not really exciting, it doesn't promise great blessings on this earth, but it does promise something greater: God's kingdom.

May we all listen and keep to our roots in Christ. With that in place we will be blessed and have the peace of salvation.


Aaron said...

This seems to be a hard subject to deal with. How are our good works part of our identity in Christ? Obviously, our good works do nothing in this identity - Christ loves us and justifies us through baptism without us doing anything. However, I wonder if my post saved identity in Christ is different. Am I expected to live my Christ called sanctified life through works. Not that those works make me who I am, but that it identifies who I am in Christ. Like in James; faith without works is dead.
Now I would never bring this topic to the unchurched or a new Christian - mostly because first you need to deeply understand your identity in Christ.
Now, If feel guilty or proud of my good works accomplishments where does that leave me in my Christian identity? If I am too guilty - am I truly serving Christ - does he really love me? Soon, it becomes works righteousness. If I am too proud, then - it seems that I may be able to serve God without Christ’s help.
Then, I can reject any good works - but then I also may be rejecting the freedom Christ grants us through his redemptive work. I guess in the end it probably is a life long endeavor - with the help of the Holy Spirit - actually it’s more the complete work of the Holy Spirit. I assume that all I can do is stay "rooted" in the word of God - like you said and let the cards fall from there.

Anonymous said...