We've all heard (or been a part of) the story about the believer with and unsaved friend. The believer prays for the friend every day, year in and year out, for many years. Finally, just when the believer is ready to give up, the friend has an experience and comes into the fold. Now hearing a soul saved makes my joy resound like it would for any Believer. My take-away from`the story, however, I find to be greatly differing from many. At least my hubris tells me this.
You see, for myself, the story is not a particularly great testament to perserverance or commitment or the power of prayer or any of the traditional bells rung from this tale. For me, it serves a clear counter-point to the not-by-works infestation of laziness and relativism that pervades modern Christianity.
It seems so often to me that the Church compromises the hard back-bone right out of our faith. If you aren't impacting the world around you, it could be that you aren't working at it. If you are constantly besieged by the trials of adultery, greed, or some such, then simply saying "Oops! Good thing I'm saved!" isn't an acceptable answer. Sure, the occasional mistep, the infrequent lapse in character is to be expected. Our failures are part and parcel of our humanity. They don't diminish the person we are or our Salvation in the least. It is when we fail to keep striving, fail to remember that following Christ IS work, that is when we are defeated. Then our fruit will cease to bear, our actions become meaningless, and our hearts will harden.
Because we are saved, doesn't mean we stop reaching. The sweeping grace that gives us immeasurable freedom in no way removes from us the responsibility to perservere, to struggle, to attempt.
Salvation demands Faith.
Faith inspires the Walk.
The Walk requires Work.
Work succeeds by Faith.
Faith allows Salvation.
It's not quite the circle of life, but it's my immature way of expressing how these things are connected.