Frankly, most days I struggle with two trains going in opposite directions: grace and effort. I am completely aware that Ephesians 2:8 assures us that we are saved by grace through faith. I am a baptized believer. But I can't get it out of my cranium that there is a line drawn on a sheet of paper in heaven and that my performance as a human looks like a lie-detector needle as it jerks back and forth across that line.
Why is this? Is it because of some sort of Americanized work ethic that's been drummed into me since I was 6 years old? Is it the hangover of legalistic preaching I grew up with that really did think salvation was attainable through maximum effort? And is it avoidable?
It's like I can't internalize what God is telling me. I consider all my failings and repeatedly come to the conclusion that I'm lukewarm. And we all know what happens to the lukewarm Christian. I can extricate myself from this depressing feeling by reading about grace or hearing a grace-based sermon. But sooner or later, I'm back chasing that line again. I'm like Paul, who contemplated all he left undone or unsaid and pronounced himself miserable.
The paradox of this is that when asked if I'm saved or not, I firmly answer in the affirmative. One part of my brain accepts what the shed blood of Jesus has bought for me. But as far as the day-to-day attitude I start each morning with, it's "you better start earning the gift that has been handed you."
Anybody want to chime in on this conundrum?