By Grace alone, through faith alone, we are saved. I hear this all the time; it’s a pretty common evangelical Christianese catchphrase. I get it, and it’s true…mostly…kind of, except not really. The problem isn’t the grace or the faith; that’s fine and straight out of Ephesians 2:8-9, actually. The problem is that little word added in there: Alone. Grace isn’t the lonely kid in the school yard, and neither is faith.
I’m not talking about the fact faith without works is dead. Negating legalism and works based righteousness is actually the part of “by grace alone” I like the best.
What I’m talking about is the nature of grace and the nature of Christian life, and purpose for which the all-powerful creator of the universe decided to make something in his own image, and then redeem and empower it.
Let’s start with the simplest part: How we are saved. Grace isn’t enough. Without power and wisdom, and the work of Christ on the Cross, we wouldn’t have salvation. So from the getgo, I feel like “by grace alone” is missing a couple of important elements.
Then you have the fact we are saved for a purpose, given gifts, callings, put into a body, subject to all the prophecies since before the beginning of time…yada, yada, yada.
We don’t understand God, or the mechanisms of our own salvation. Much less the purpose or reason behind it. We see as through a glass darkly, and I think we tend to get tunnel vision. We want to create a systematic theology and define all the terms, and understand how everything fits together, but we microfocus and overlook important details, like the fact God’s wisdom, plan, power, and Christ, are all necessary additions to grace to accomplish salvation.
So why does that matter? Basically, because all of those minor details lead to a totally different kind of salvation experience than grace alone. I’ve seen countless “Christians” talking about grace alone and “once saved, always saved,” who never seem to look any further into Christian life than salvation itself.
To me, that’s a lot like buying World of Warcraft, embarking on your new epic quest, picking a race, gender, class, alliance, choosing your specialization, getting all your friends to join you…and then raving on and on about how awesome it is the city guards don’t attack you. Basically obsessing over the fact that because you choose Horde (the correct choice), the guards will let you into Orgrimmar (the Horde capital city), all the while insisting it’s all about the grace and favor you have in the eyes of the Horde Chieftain.
You ignore the starting quest prompts, don’t use any of your new skills and talents, and never pick up any items. You only gain a few levels from the experience you get walking from your starting zone to the main city. Eventually you’ll have a hard time avoiding the level 10 monsters that speckle the way to the city because you never paid attention to anything but the fact you get to call Orgimmjar home. Don’t get me wrong, Orgrimmar (A.K.A Heaven in this metaphor) is a great City, but it’s not the only city, and cities are only a tiny speck in the vast and immersive world that is WOW.
God chose us for a reason; salvation is not that reason. Salvation is only a small part of what lets us be his chosen, anointed, called, gifted, and empowered children. It wasn’t just grace, because if it was, then everything would be about salvation. If it was, then there would be no reason to go on living after we got saved.
I’m not saying grace is not the force which accomplishes our salvation. God’s grace dominates everything about our salvation, and no matter what part of Christian life you turn to, grace is everywhere.
There is more to the story. We can’t sit back in awe of grace and ignore everything else. We need to be aware of, engage with, and follow after God’s plan for our lives. We should obsess over the ability to live free from sin, not using grace as an excuse to sit in the sin.
God is so good and his plan for our lives is amazing, intricate, and awe-inspiring. But he is a gentleman. He won’t force us, so if we rant and obsess over being in Orgrimmar, he will stand patiently at the door to our heart and wait for us to open the door and let us in. He will wait for us to click on the quest prompt to start our spiritual journey.
The sooner we pay attention, click the prompt, read his plan and will for our lives, and go out to accomplish it, the sooner we will find ourselves making a difference in the world. Carrying out God’s will as his children, making the world a better place, and getting to know Him and our own nature in a more intimate way is the goal.
The best part is, there is infinite endgame content and no level cap. It never stops; there is always more. Even the basics we learn at the beginning get bigger, more powerful, and more meaningful as they are integrated into a more diverse skill rotation. There are layers of complexity, skill curves, amazing side quests, lore, everything you could ever dream of to live a life filled with meaning, challenge, and adventure.
There is so much more to salvation than the grace it takes to accomplish it, and more to life than salvation. So let’s do this thing. Let’s join guilds, do raids, have fun, embrace our destiny and gifts, and live by them.