Honor. Duty. Responsibility. Hard Work.
These are some of the words that I have not heard about recently. Not in movies, or tv, or in the news or on the streets.
My. Me. Want. Now.
These are some of the words that I hear constantly in the movies, tv, news and on the streets.
We could have a very long conversation about the trend of current culture and how it leads to certain attitudes and maybe we can another time. But this time I would like to focus on the Christian life and how it is meant to resound with those same less-heard words: honor, duty, responsibility and hard work.
These words, unfortunately are not words you hear within the Christian church often either, much to our detriment.
Consider these encouragements from Holy Scripture:
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24
“Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and election sure, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.” 2 Peter 1:10
“For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.” Romans 14:10, 12
Do you hear the common theme running throughout these passages? Honor. Duty. Responsibility. Hard Work.
There is a common word that is used in Christian circles when the honor, duty, responsibility and hard work aspects of the Christian life are not talked about. It’s called cheap grace. Cheap grace means an attitude of I’m saved but it doesn’t change how I live, I’ll do whatever I think is best. We could also get into questions about how long someone can go down that road and still “be saved” but that is not a human question to answer, we can merely say, “you’re going down the wrong road and it leads to a bad place.”
Often when you find cheap grace, usually the pastors and churches are not talking about responsibility or if they are the people aren’t attending to hear and practice the words.
Much of the problem comes from a confusion between justification and sanctification. Justification is the term used when through faith by God’s grace in Jesus you have become a redeemed child of God. This occurs in baptism and at the hearing of the Word when faith is kindled and God’s promises are made. This is a one-time event that is accomplished solely by God and his gracious love for us.
Sanctification means everything else that comes after justification, the life of the redeemed Christian. This is the Spirit-empowered life where and when we walk and live as children of the light, no longer as children of the darkness.
These two terms must always be kept separate. Justification is only God’s work for us. Sanctification is the Holy Spirit working within us to produce good works that we actively choose and do.
But the fear comes when people mistakenly believe that their justification is dependent upon their sanctification, when it is not. To avoid that fear, many simply don’t really talk about the life of Christian sanctification, focusing on justification alone, often only preaching to the choir of the justified.
But because your salvation is secure in Jesus, being only a gracious work that God has done in your life, there doesn’t have to be any fear about living the Christian life. Especially of failing because you are already secure.
Think about it like the current immigration focus. It is only those who are illegally in any country that face the threat of deportation, but a citizen of our country does not have to face that threat, even when they break the law their own country.
In Jesus, you already are a citizen of God’s kingdom, you cannot be deported, and as a citizen, even when you make mistakes and break the law, you are not deported, but are worked with and within God’s kingdom to bring you to a proper place.
So for the Christian, these words: honor, duty, responsibility and hard work, hold no fear but only invitation to live out the life God has prepared for you and to do it well. To live in such a way that you honor your commitments to God, you fulfill your duties, you are responsible for your actions and you work hard in God’s kingdom to bring the love of God to others.
As we enter the season of Lent, these words and the life of Christian duty will be our privilege to grow into.