I was recently asked the old question: "But if we're in Christ forevermore, why be good?"
Any number of counter-questions might be appropriate:
Is fear of consequences really the only reason for avoiding sin?
Isn't unconditional love most likely to elicit a good response?
Why is being good the ultimate arbiter (rather than relationship with God)?
But as we spoke it seemed clear to me that the big misconception behind it all was a view that says: The Christian life is really, really, really hard and the only reason to live it is because there are other, basically unrelated, spiritual rewards. Take away these carrots and sticks and of course you'll sin. Because, you know, sin is really great. It's so great that God has to threaten us with hell to stop us having fun. Offer free grace and there'll be pandemonium.
As though the way of Jesus is stifling.
As though sin is life-giving.
As though God's a cosmic kill-joy.
As though only eternal damnation balances the scales enough to make Christianity the clever choice.
As though Jesus said "My yoke is hard, but hell is harder."
But what if Jesus really brings life and sin only brings death? What if Christ's yoke really is the easy one - the only one that properly fits? What if you don't have to dangle people's feet over the pit to get them to behave? What then?
Well you tell them "You're in Christ forevermore, why be bad?"