I read somewhere that when cake mixes were first developed, all the ingredients needed were in the mix. All you had to do was add water and stir. But women didn’t like that, because they felt they didn’t do enough in the process for it to count as cooking. So the cake mix developers re-thought their formulas, and made it so that the baker had to add water, and oil, and eggs. Apparently that was the formula for success, because there are more cake mixes on the shelves than ever.
We want so much to add ingredients to our salvation, and do some work to be worthy of Heaven. And in fact men (and women!) have developed many varieties of religion requiring various amounts of effort from their devotees. We can just pick whichever one makes us feel we’ve done our part and earned our way to Heaven. But not really.
If we want to spend a joyous and love-filled eternity with the perfect Creator of the universe, we must stop looking at cake-mix religions and turn our eyes upon Jesus. The Truth, the absolute Truth that corresponds to reality, is that Jesus Christ, the Son of God has done everything necessary for us to live forever with Him, for which I thank Him from the depths of my heart. Jesus does it all for us…we don’t even have to add water. Here’s basically our part in His whole grand plan: believe. Don’t dump the batter on the floor and stomp out of the kitchen, but trust in His ability and willingness to save us.
Scripture tells me that God will fulfill His purpose for me (Psalm 57:2). He will accomplish what concerns me (Psalm 138:8). What concerns me most? Living happily ever after, starting as soon as possible. The fact that I have been an enemy to God by disregarding His law (and making an icky mess with contaminated batter splattered everywhere) is a huge obstacle to that desire, because the wages of sin is death, and eternal separation from God. However, Jesus has accomplished my forgiveness, by stepping into time and history and paying the death penalty for me. He provided all the necessary ingredients: a perfect life, the voluntary sacrifice of that life, and the power to come to life again and conquer death. All I have to do to accept His forgiveness is believe, and even the faith to believe is a gift from Him. Ephesians 2:8 says that I am saved through faith, “…and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God!”
Okay, but now that I’m saved, I have to get busy stirring and adding ingredients to get to Heaven, right? Wrong. Scripture is replete with descriptions of how minor and almost passive my role is. I am commanded to follow Him. To abide in Him. To rest in Him and wait on Him. Now I realize that we’re also told to fight, run the race, put on armor, resist the devil and so forth. But look at I Corinthians 10:13. Even when God is talking about fighting temptation, He promises that He will not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to endure, and even that He will prepare an escape route for us ahead of time! Our God goes to great lengths to ensure our success in this area and every other. The Holy Spirit lives in us to guide us, teach us, and help us remember what we’ve already learned. He shows us each step of the path we should take, and even prays for us because we don’t know how we should pray.
There is a balance, a tension beyond our ability to comprehend, in the way we are to live for Christ. Philippians 2:12, 13 expresses this: “…work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” He wants us to learn how to live pleasing to Him, but it’s really God working in us, both to enable us to WANT to please Him, and to actually DO it! We’re like tiny children, holding onto the spoon with Daddy, “helping” him stir. He does the work for us, praises us for our feeble efforts, cleans up the messes we can’t help making, thanks us for being such good helpers, and rewards us with His immeasurable love and a generous helping of happily ever after.