If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.Roman 5:17
For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God— 9not the result of works, so that no one may boast. 10For we are what he has made us, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand to be…Ephesians 2:8-10
I was reading The Christian Life: Cross or Glory? By Steven A. Hein. In the third chapter Dr. Hein paints in words the difference between a free gift and getting a priceless gift for a great bargain. His description portrays the difference between the gift of grace and salvation that Christs freely gives to us versus the idea of salvation based mostly on Grace with a little effort on our part (a priceless gift for a great bargain.) As I read, my mind drifted into a daydream of heaven.
I do NOT believe that once in heaven Jesus chastises us for our theological errors, but what if he did? It was a daydream, I decided to wander into it and discover where it may lead.
Scene one: A man is in heaven having a conversation with Jesus Christ. Jesus says, “I really appreciate all the work you did on my behalf on earth. I wish you would not have felt obligated to do what you did, but I did work through you, and I appreciate your effort. But, you know, you didn’t have to beat yourself up when you failed… I had already paid for your sins and failures. And you didn’t have to discipline yourself so hard, I wanted you to enjoy your life. And that time you were spent, but heard of a need, you didn’t have to go. You could have stayed home and rested; I had the other situation already covered. Like I said, I appreciate your hard work. I would like for it to have been a joy instead of an obligation but thank you.
Then I thought, as Lutherans, what if we have it all wrong? What if it really isn’t all grace? What if it really is mostly God’s grace and a little bit of effort on our part? What would that conversation look like?
Scene two: I’m in heaven, walking on streets paved with gold. The Rock, a.k.a. Peter, a.k.a. Cephas walks up and joins me. As we stroll, he says, “You know you had a pretty big theological error when you were on earth. It’s not all Grace. It really is Grace and a little bit of effort on your part. And you were close, but you really should have had a couple more keeping-the-law attempts. You would have failed, but you were two serious attempts away from the goal. And… you were short three people in the ‘bringing people to Christ’ goal. You were close, and you did that without even trying, but you needed three more.”
You can imagine my heart sinking, my face dropping. Then the realization hit me. I asked St. Peter, “Wait a minute… If it really is Grace and little bit, and I failed at the “little bit,” WHY AM I HERE?!?!” The Rock stopped, turned toward me, looked me straight in the eye and said, “I’m just messing with you, it really is all Grace!”