Today I finally put away the Christmas tree. Oh, it’s been down for a week or two, but putting it away was going to require climbing up in the mezzanine shelf in the garage and doing some organizing. Not my favourite kind of task. But I did it because I finally had the right motivation. Today my wife had put some extra work into how she looked. Now please don’t misunderstand me, on any normal day Wendy is a very attractive lady. But when a lady who looks as good as she did today asks her man to do a chore for her – any chore – let me tell you, that’s motivation! I actually wanted to put that tree away.
I’ve been thinking about motives for the past couple of days actually. Specifically as it relates to how a Christ Follower lives out his or her life. Sadly, through much of history the church has used duty, and failing that, guilt as one of its prime means of motivating people to live moral lives and be active in service in the church. To a degree it may seem to work, at least for a while, but ultimately it always fails. Plus you end up with a bunch of miserable people.
In John 12:32 Jesus declared that when he is lifted up he will draw all people to himself. The next verse tells us that in saying this he was indicating the kind of death he would die, but it also indicates the type of motivation Jesus uses. Notice that he doesn’t drive people to God, he himself draws them. When a person genuinely encounters the love of Jesus as expressed through the cross they are motivated to be near him, to do what will bring him joy and pleasure. That encounter occurs through us who are Christ Followers.
Now some will counter that conviction of sin has a role to play, and undoubtedly it does, but probably not the role that many of us assume. Unfortunately this article isn’t long enough for exploring that properly but perhaps another time. In the mean time, let me say this: Duty and guilt did nothing to motivate me to put the tree away, but the love of, and my love for my beautiful wife certainly did. Duty and guilt are not the means of motivation that Jesus uses and neither should we. Instead, let people see Christ in you.