Quite the title, huh?
A while back I heard a friend comment that his daughter needs less of the gospel in her life. I asked what he meant. He said that the constant reiteration of the grace of the cross at school and at church had made her lazy in her “spiritual life” and even with homework. Grace, grace, grace resulted in lethargy.
But this is a misunderstanding of the gospel—or at least a disfigurement of the intended fruit of the gospel in a person’s life. Our post Reformation Christian culture is often prepared to call out legalism in its many forms, but sometimes not so well equipped to encourage a growing spiritual devotion, especially in young people, for fear they will believe that doing good deeds or becoming a good person is how to earn God’s favor. But maybe this neglect of discipleship is one of the factors in the spiritual laziness my friend was noticing.
But the gospel, believe it or not, is more than just forgiveness. It’s the promise of a new heart.
If God is a gardener, then the gospel is the soil in which we’re meant to increase, not in order to earn God’s affection, but fueled and fed by it. This means growth, and fruit, and flourishing.
If a person’s reception of the gospel results in their loving God and others less, then it probably wasn’t the gospel, rather what Dietrich Bonheoffer called “cheap grace.”
Personally, I have found that spiritual intentionality actually increases my capacity to receive God’s love and grace—not that he loves me any more as I put forth effort, but that my life is in a better posture to receive. Just as a hollowed out cup can hold more water, an eager, obedient, disciplined life is able to understand and embrace God’s mercies more readily.
God’s grace is a new soil in which to grow more than it is a declaration that the plant doesn’t matter. My prayer for you, Rea, is that your roots go down deep into the love and grace of our God. And, firmly rooted, you will grow to the fullness of all that God is calling you to be as His beloved child.
“For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age.” – Titus 2:11-12