Immunity and Half-Measures
1 Corinthians 3:15 He himself will be saved, but only as through fire.
Though I obsess with some pursuits, for most endeavors in life, I have always been a bit lazy. I can recall as a teenager, doing the minimum amount required for almost everything. What is the least amount of work I can do and still get credit? When life came crashing down years later due to my addiction, it was no different. When I needed an inpatient treatment program, I did not look for the best one. I searched for the shortest and easiest one. Those closest to me, wisely pointed out my tendency for half-measures and insisted that I go to Teen Challenge, a Faith-based urban program, not known for its brevity or comfort. It was, of course, the right choice.
As I have often put forth minimal effort, it should not be surprising that I have had a similar approach in my faith. As a child, I asked Jesus into my heart, because I did not want to go to H-E-double hockey sticks. Heaven sounded nice and Hell sounded terrible, so I prayed that prayer a couple hundred times, just to make sure I had my golden ticket.
How did I attain Hell-immunity? As we are saved by faith, not by what we do (Eph. 2:8), all I had to do was believe. I did not have to do anything. All I had to do was pray a magic prayer. This fit my style perfectly. I can go to heaven and still live however I want. I can build a life of self and as I have my golden ticket, I am forgiven.
As a child, I think God probably found my childish faith amusing and honored it. As an adult, I imagine my persistent immaturity has been less amusing. Paul pointed out the poverty of my half-measured faith in today’s passage. He said that all Christians by definition, build their lives on a foundation of Christ. If though, we start out in Christ and then build a life of vain, temporary pursuits, we will find, in the end, that we have built a life bound for the fire.
The fire Paul described, that test at the end of life, will reveal what our lives amounted to and will burn away everything that is insignificant and meaningless. What then will our lives amount to? Will we look back to see an abundant life, brimming with the pursuit of the eternal, or will we see the ash of a life lived in pursuit of selfish gain? Eternity will reveal the substance of our life.
The good news, is that even the one whose life pursuits are burned, will be saved, just barely, through the flames, if he truly started with a foundation of Christ. Though this man, described by Paul, pursued self and though his life amounted to nothing, he still met God in eternity.
The tragedy of this man’s life though, is that he did not know much of God in this life. Sure, he had his immunity, but in his half-measured faith, he never lived the life he was meant to live.
The challenge for me then, is to daily build a life on the foundation of Christ, in pursuit of God. I will build a life either in pursuit of God or in pursuit of me. Are my labors today of any eternal value? Am I loving God and loving my neighbor? Am I growing in my relationship with God? Am I telling others of what He has done for me? Or, am I just building a life of ash, in pursuit of me?