I was talking with someone about universal salvation. As I’ve said and written before, the idea that everyone gets saved at The End appeals to me, but I don’t think that’s what the Bible as a whole teaches. If I’m wrong and we get to Eternity and everyone is there, I’m not going be disappointed . . . I’m going to rejoice!
The reaction of the person I was talking to was much more negative. “I don’t think it would be fair. After all, we (Christians) have to do all this stuff. It wouldn’t be fair if atheists and Muslims and everybody else just walked right into heaven.”
Where did we ever get this sense that being a Christian is a burden? That following God is more about what you give up than what you get to do?
For too many folks, Christianity is just the Eternity Insurance Association, Incorporated. Pay your premiums now – not just monetarily by throwing something in the offering plate, but by giving up all the “fun” stuff God doesn’t like – and when you die you can “collect” your payoff: heaven!
Christianity is then just a bunch of rules you have to follow so you can get into heaven.
But if we really believe we are saved by grace, then following Jesus is not about what you have to do, it’s about what you get to do. Because salvation is a gift, because it was finished on the Cross, then there is nothing we have to do! But there is much that we get to do in response. We get to live our lives in ways that love and honor God and our neighbors.
Embracing this attitude can enhance not just our personal faith lives but also our evangelism.
When I was a young unChristian, I wasn’t worried about eternal life. I was concerned about my life RIGHT NOW. Someone spouting off to me about hell and damnation and the State of My Eternal Soul was about as relevant to me in my 20’s as phone calls from the Happy Acres Memorial Garden about the special they had on burial plots.
To be more effective in our witness, especially to young people, we have to better articulate the “get to do” reality of our faith. Following Jesus is not about following rules “or else.” It’s about things like getting to love and serve others in Jesus’ name, to be forgiven and to forgive, to participate in a fellowship of believers.
Here’s an example: Have you ever been invited to do something on Sunday morning and responded, “I can’t. I have to go to church.” Or, if you’re a parent, have you dragged your kids out of bed on Sunday saying, “We have to go to church?”
The reality is that we don’t have to go to church. The salvation Jesus secured on the cross is not impacted one iota by whether we sit in a pew on Sunday morning.
But . . . as Christians we get to gather together as God’s people. We get to worship the God who made us and who is always making us new. We get to hear the salvation story again and be reminded of its relevance and power in our lives. We get to encourage each other and to be encouraged. We get to meet Jesus in the Word and in the bread and wine of communion.
Sometimes, even as a pastor, I struggle with keeping a get to do attitude. The key is remembering that Jesus has already done everything that had to be done. Everything else in my walk of faith is stuff I get to do.
What are some things you get to do because you are a follower of Christ? (If you are indeed a follower of Christ.)
And if you’re an unChristian like I used to be, how have you gotten that impression from Christians that faith is all about stuff you have to do?
As always, I welcome your comments and questions.