In the tension over preaching for sanctification, there seems to be a menu of two options today. One is to call for believers to add obedience to trust in order to engage fully with the privilege of Christian living. The other is to keep the focus on grace and trust the gospel to re-shape lives as people learn to live in their new identity.
Both sides can make a biblical case for their position. The Bible does include a lot of instruction. The Bible does argue strongly that God’s grace is sufficient for life transformation (*and the Bible says more about this issue, but this third element seems to be missing from current debate).
At times it feels like we are on the forecourt deciding between two vehicles. Car A makes a lot of sense. It resonates with life as we know it. It is sleek, polished, attractive and sophisticated. It is weighty and backed by a lot of big names. The other one, car B, is in some ways more attractive. Somehow it seems lighter and sleeker, and it resonates with life as we want it. It has some great names associated with it, albeit less of them in total. It seems to use a new technology that makes for a different driving experience.
If we go with car A, we will get a lot of affirmation. Most people drive car A or respect those that do. But car B seems to promise a more successful journey to our destination. The sales force for car A decry car B. It may sound great and look sleek, but it won’t get you very far. Just down the road you’ll be stuck and reverting to having no car at all. It is a false promise and an incomplete car.
If we go with car B, will we really get very far? Initially we will fly down the road, but will we lose momentum? The sales force for car B are convinced that it will do the job for us. They point to how much heavier car A is, and how technology has moved on. Car A is a bit like not having a car at all, they say.
Tough decision. But what if there is a car C and nobody is offering it to you? What if car C has a motor that cars A & B lack? What if car C doesn’t require a Flintstone-like effort to move forward (car A), or enough initial momentum like the sleek-slider (car B)? What if car C has an engine?
What if the world we lived in were not full of motor-driven vehicles? We might well debate the relative strengths of technologies that resonate with our experience or our dreams, but still lack the essential ingredient for ongoing progress.