How do we respond to the gift of salvation? We respond by living in a completely new way. I’m not talking about a conversion from one faith tradition to another but rather a transformation of inner motives and values that drive all of our actions.
Although we wish it not to be so, the motive conversion is binary. It is like a car engine. It either runs on gasoline or on an electric cell. We are driven either by the grace of God or by earthly stuff. We are running on recovery fuel or relapse fuel. We can’t be motivated by both at the same time. Many of us want to be hybrids, running mainly on gasoline but occasionally going electric to get better mileage. Or we want the outward manifestations of change without doing the inner work. Slightly better is not what God pines for. He’s not in it for the outward appearance, either. He wants our whole hearts without restraint as a reciprocal response to what he gives us of himself. If we seek true healing and life change, we need nothing less than a spiritual conversion.
Scripture testifies to the disconcerting truth that we cannot orient ourselves around both grace and worldly things, and that if we orient ourselves to worldly things we can expect conflict to result.
1Those conflicts and disputes among you, where do they come from? Do they not come from your cravings that are at war within you? 2You want something and do not have it; so you commit murder. And you covet something and cannot obtain it; so you engage in disputes and conflicts. You do not have, because you do not ask. 3You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures. 4Adulterers! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4:1-4)
When pondering grace versus worldly things as fuel, those of us among the 5% of Earth’s population who reside in North America—consuming 25% of Earth’s energy and eating enough extra calories every day to feed an additional 80 million people—can’t escape confronting our abundance. While 925 million people in the world do not have enough to eat, making hunger and malnutrition the number one risk to health worldwide, the leading health risk to the poor in the United States is obesity. It is indeed the land of plenty.
How we respond internally to the abundance around us informs what we do externally with our resources. Both matter. “From everyone to whom much has been given, much will be required; and from one to whom much has been entrusted, even more will be demanded.” (Luke 12:48) Are we humbled by the abundance of opportunity and reward, wondering what on earth could be expected of us that would in any way measure to the abundance before us? Or have we grown so accustomed to worldly things that we feel entitled to them and, in fact, want more? Our response reflects what fuels our souls.
Join the conversation. What did you watch on TV last night, and what fuelled that choice?
Copyright 2011 Stephanie Walker All rights reserved. Visit www.AcrossTraditions.com.