for many years of my life, i have had this nagging feeling about my “conversion experience”. i was taught in the school of bridge diagrams, argumentative apologetics… in other words: revealing the depravity of humanity and its need for salvation lest we run head first into the gates of hell. i don’t dare knock on that. i met Jesus through these models. however, i’m starting to wonder if that process has actually cheapened my walk with God.
there’s a sense that when i had my conversion experience, i was just made fine. now i could move through life knowing my eternal destination was secured. then one of my fellow discussion partners chimed in with this line, “the problem with Christians is that no one wants to kill us. we fit in nice and neat into the society around us and we don’t worry too much about calling sin ‘sin’ because we’re often caught up in it ourselves! what’s different about me than anyone else? i still lust after consumeristic things, i still go after success at the sacrifice of my family… i’m no better, and in many ways, i’m worse than everyone else!”
a better way of understanding what is happening at this moment is that i have entered into a journey of following the WAY of God. rather than saying “you’re a sinner going to hell” (thus scaring some into a decision, chasing others away, and isolating everyone), offering a wholistic system of life that God wants to renew in every human being. so then every day, i’m confronted with the things in my life God wants to restore and make new. it’s a better option for life, not a ticket out of hell!
when i experience the life of Jesus as my option, i then move into service out of gratitude for his love.
I notice this is true with kids. when i have loved Ezra well, like right after a good afternoon of backyard soccer, i can ask him to clean up just about anything, and out of gratitude, he obeys. he’s not obligated to obey (which we experience more often than we’d like), but he’s grateful for the love we just shared in and serves from that place.
i prefer gratitude out of love than gratitude out of guilt. it’s more unifying and intimate with my master.