Really? I agree that the Christian life is more about receiving than doing. We are on the receiving end of God’s empowering grace. Jesus said, “Without me you can do nothing.” That is not much. Jesus also said, “Anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it” (Luke 18:17).
Yet the posture of those receiving is not one of sitting back in an easy chair. Paul has just said that he wants to “be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ” (Philippians 3:9).
Then he goes on, “Not that I have already obtained all this or have already been made perfect, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me” (12). He doesn’t stop there. He says he is “forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (13). He pictures himself like a runner: “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus” (14). Simply put: because Christ Jesus gave His all, Paul will give his all as well, knowing it is grace from start to finish. But in order to finish well, he will keep on running, straining, reaching, setting new goals, attaining new heights, pouring out his life for others.
We owe everything to a kind and generous Father. And in view of His great love, we give it all we’ve got. Peter agrees with this synergy. He writes, “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3). Then he goes on, “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness” (5), and a lengthy list of virtues.
Pharisees would take that exhortation, exclude the grace, and strain it out with a legalistic self-will. Not even close. “Twas grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved.” And yet that grace not only forgives and receives–it energizes and empowers.
Millennials are good at chilling. Sometimes they need to. Many seem to be waiting for good things to happen to them, when they should be taking Paul’s lead and “laying hold” of those things in cooperation with God the Holy Spirit.
In the movie “Lion King,” Simba believed a lie, ran from his destiny, and adopted a Hakuna matata (“no worries”) philosophy. Fortunately for him, Rafiki got ahold of him and literally knocked some sense into him. Destinies are for the taking, but they must be taken, not assumed.
In the story of Jesus about the talents (Matthew 25), the third investor did not fulfill his destiny–he buried it! And he changed his picture of the master in the process: “I knew that you are a hard man….” Oh, really? Doesn’t look that way. Seems like a kind boss. When you run from responsibility, you need an alibi to keep living an irresponsible life. Might as well blame your boss and ask him to overlook your lack. Jesus didn’t. Surprise: He expects us to walk into our God-appointed assignments–by grace. Go for it! You won’t regret it.