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Devotionals : Christian Motivation; Love, Not Souls Are At Stake
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Christian Motivation; Love, Not Souls Are At Stake

By Ryan, Member of Delve into Jesus since 12/30/2007
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Jesus replied: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” Matthew 22:37

Christians should be passionate about obeying God - and - preaching the Gospel. No debate there, but do we all agree on what our motivation is for performing these two Christian obligations?

During this past week, I was stunned by some of the rumbling and quaking in the evangelical blogosphere as the Christian’s motivation for obeying and spreading the Gospel came up in a roundabout way. This controversy proved to be a useful challenge for me to evaluate my own motivation for doing what God asks of me. After all, Christianity is meant to employ the heart, head and hands; while failure to engage any one of the three may indicate the absence of genuine Christianity.

Recently, two of my favorite and famous bloggers decided it was their duty to call out a pastor on the doctrinal error he is purported to be pushing in his soon to be released book. Even though this author in question is a hip, popular leader, for some reason I have never followed his ministry or read any of his shtick. After hearing what he is accused of writing, I vow not to read his provocative book.

I have no problem with his peers expressing their duty to publicly correct him, nor was I concerned with the tone they used. However, the rationale used to discredit his alleged premise necessitates the examination of the Christian motive for obeying God.

The offending writer is accused of supporting universalism, which is the belief that ultimately, all people will be saved. I’m not surprised that traditionalist feel compelled to shout “HERESY!” when they perceive a leaning toward universalism. I don’t wish to discuss universalism here because I think the more important issue raised by this week’s discussion is what should be the Christian motivation for obedience.

To debunk universalism, these two bloggers posed the question: “If all people will automatically go to heaven, why would anyone obey God?” They then elaborated on sins that may be fun to roll with if there were no eternal consequences tied to them. They insisted that if universalism were true, Christians would throw obedience under the free-wheeling sin bus.

What? Is the Christian motivation for obeying God so shallow that it can be summarized as, “So I can get into heaven”?

We are all aware of the attraction we have toward sin and that human nature seeks to get away with whatever it can. But, should our desire to be obedient be based on wanting to get something from God – or because we love God?

Because I know the theology of these two bloggers well, I know they reject works-based salvation and they remain in awe of what Jesus has accomplished for our salvation. However, I think they’re inadvertently supporting the idea that we want to be obedient because we desire heaven and we get heaven by being obedient.

So, for the sake of exploring why we do what we do, I propose a rephrasing of their question as: “If there was no heaven, would you obey God?”

I believe that the Christian pondering that question will conclude: Yes! Why? Because the true Christian has accepted God is God, and obedience to Him is the act of love one would willingly give to the One who is God – regardless if it meant receiving nothing, absolutely nada, in return. Hallelujah however, heaven is, in reality, the reward of the saved!

God is not a Cosmic Slot Machine, in which we drop the right coins of our own righteousness to receive favors here and there, and then, we ultimately win the heaven jackpot. God’s desire for relationship is only satisfied when we’re motivated to love Him. That is the rationale for instituting a superior covenant based on love, not law. As we grow in our relationship with God we are increasingly motivated to obey due to love.

Certainly, we love God because He first loved us. The Christian motivation must be to obey God because of love, or by default, obedience becomes a work – a work of trying to earn favors, up to and including salvation. Yes, God does bless obedience; He longs to bless the heart that loves Him, not the greedy heart with ulterior motives.

To add to the theology tsunami, a third blogger commented, “If universalism was true, why would we bother to preach the Gospel?” I didn’t need the controversy of universalism to be hit with a variation of that question from a few of my favorite authors, and even while sitting in church every week.

I have encountered several leaders for whom I have unending respect because of their tremendous passion for preaching the Gospel. Their desire is so fervent and their skill so finely honed, they wish to whip up the Christian masses to labor in the saving of souls along with them. Some of them even refer to sharing the Gospel as “soul winning” and talk about their soul saving techniques.

What? Who saves souls? The Christian who gives his life to preach the Gospel – or – Savior Jesus? Can a human win a soul? Obviously, only the Savior saves, while a mere person cannot win their own soul, nor the soul of a single other person.

Imagine God musing about an individual over whom He had thoughts of predestination: “I knit you together in your mother’s womb. I numbered your days by the plans I made for you. But, since Joe-Christian snoozed late and thereby failed to introduce you to My Gospel, I regret that I must sentence you to eternal damnation. Sorry, not My fault; blame that Christian deadbeat.”

No, God will bring to salvation those He predestines for salvation. Just as you cannot earn your own salvation, you cannot win the salvation of another. If you personally neglect to preach the Gospel on God’s behalf, He will raise up someone, perhaps someone seven times more spectacular than you, to do the work He first offered to you. If God can raise up stones to praise Him, he can certainly raise up stones to also preach His Gospel, if you’re not feeling up to the task.

It is completely up to God to determine who He’ll save - and that depends not a bit on theories like universalism, or what you do or don’t do. But, Hallelujah, He invites you, by some marvelous and humbling act of love, to participate in His work of salvation!

Some may be motivated to evangelize to try to win their own salvation through obedience, or due to concern for the eternal fate of their fellow man. God already has these bases covered in His loving plan of salvation and predestination. So, the only acceptable answer for why we must preach the Gospel is: “Because we love God”!

You share; Jesus saves; the Holy Spirit convicts; God imputes Jesus’ righteousness for yours. This is love.

Any other reason for laboring for the sake of the Gospel may be grossly over-inflating your importance in the process, or misunderstanding God’s role. Give God the glory by acknowledging salvation is completely a result of His love.

It is in that space where we love God by doing what He asks regarding obedience and spreading the Gospel that an earth shaking change takes place. Being motivated solely by love for God is the holy ground upon which the Master proclaims that the servant has become a friend.

Holy God, you know my desires and deficiencies in loving you. I wish to demonstrate my love for you through obedience to doing and sharing your Word with those in my world. Help me to reflect your love!

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Thanks Ryan! Your well-spoken and timely thoughts seem to be expressing what I've been feeling, seeing, and grappling with just lately .. but in my ineptitude of expression I've been unable to put it all together. So I thank God for gifting people like you who can help me not only sort out my own confused ideas and thoughts, but also bring me confirmation that I've not completely been alone in my musings.
May God grant you His continued wisdom and the courage to share it for Jesus sake.
3/24/2011 9:32:15 PM - savedbygraceme, Member of Delve into Jesus since 3/3/2009

I thank you for this.
"Being motivated solely by love for God is the holy ground upon which the Master proclaims that the servant has become a friend."

When I was saved it was because of His love for me that I wanted to obey Him, it was not out of fear. That was 3 yrs ago, I still feel that way, not that I always do it. But I am working at it
God bless you
11/13/2011 7:13:38 PM - robertmburke, Member of Delve into Jesus since 11/13/2011

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