My wife is coming back today from a mission trip to Costa Rica. Knowing that she’s coming back, I tried to do a bit of straightening up around the house. I’m laundering not only my clothes but the sheets and towels as well. And I’ve got a brisket in the crock pot, so she won’t have to worry about cooking for a couple of days.
I do all of that, of course, because I’m afraid she’ll divorce me if I don’t. That’s the only reason people in a loving relationship think about pleasing the other, right? When she gets home, she’ll take care of many of the chores around the house, knowing that I’ll toss her out on the street if she doesn’t.
Hopefully by now you realize that I write in jest. Yet this reflects the way many talk about our relationship with God. Those who believe in salvation by works often say that if you take out that element of fear of condemnation, people won’t want to do good things. Some who are assured of their salvation will mock any attempts to discuss what is pleasing to God, saying that the only thing that matters is that we have eternal life.
For many, that’s the bottom line: am I going to an eternal reward or eternal punishment?
Just as the relationship I described in the first two paragraphs is far from healthy, so such an attitude toward God is sick. Back in January, I wrote:
Neither do I believe in a mere transactional relationship with God. That is, I think that my relationship with God isn’t just about getting what I want from Him (in this case, salvation). In a relationship of love, you seek to please the other, not because of what you might get by doing so, but because you love the other.
And I fully agree with myself. :-)
I seek to know God’s will, to know what pleases Him, not because I’m afraid He’ll toss me in the lake of fire when this life is over. I do it because I love Him and want to do what He wants. I want to be like Him, more so every day.
Am I misguided in this view?