Letters to the Editor: "Purpose or Burden"

This post is in response to a previous post/podcast on gospel amnesia. One of the readers left a comment with the following question:

I feel pressured to be "productive for God." For me this means being "good," homeschooling, having lots of godly kids, being a witness in the community, being in tune with the Holy Spirit's additional directions, etc. I feel like I need a full resume for God--not so that he will love me but so that I will be useful to Him.

My grandparents were missionaries to India, grandfather headed up seminaries, wrote books, etc., and were extremely productive for the Kingdom. That seems good, but sometimes I feel overwhelmed at what I "should" accomplish.

Is that Godly purpose or is it an ungodly burden? Any thoughts?

Every once in a while, a question will surface in the comments on this blog. This one was particularly good and touched on a gospel theme that I've been thinking through for the past month or so. These are only my thoughts. A discussion would be better, because then it would be two-sided and we could bounce these thoughts back and forth, so bare with me as I respond in a totally one-sided discussion.
Answering the question posed, my initial response to this reader is that they are creating an ungodly burden because of the phrases "productive for God" and "so that I will be useful to Him." Again, it just sounds to me like created burdens. However, I can also understand wanting to be used by God as a servant and that this question is not asking about working FOR our salvation.  This question falls into the category of wanting to know the will of God.  Similar to: "Am I living out the will of God? or even "Am I adequately working OUT my salvation?"
I try to read everything posted on TheResurgence.com and this question reminds me of a blog post I read a short time ago by one of the regular blog contributors:
"So, by all means work! But the hard work is not what you think it is–your personal improvement and moral progress. The hard work is washing your hands of you and resting in Christ’s finished work for you–which will inevitably produce personal improvement and moral progress. Progress in obedience happens when our hearts realize that God’s love for us does not depend on our progress in obedience. (Martin) Luther’s got a point: “It is not imitation that makes sons; it is sonship that makes imitators.” 
 The real question, then, is: What are you going to do now that you don’t have to do anything? What will your life look like lived under the banner which reads “It is finished?” What you’ll discover is that once the gospel frees you from having to do anything for Jesus, you’ll want to do everything for Jesus so that “whether you eat or drink or whatever you do” you’ll do it all to the glory of God."
I think this quote captures the spirit of how the original question was asked.  We are not discussing works-based salvation, but the work or productiveness we desire in our sanctification. Regardless, I still think the Gospel responds clearly to this question, because in the Gospel we find rest, we find security, we find value, we find acceptance and we find our identity in Jesus Christ and His finished work.
Furthermore, I think that was what we were trying to communicate in our original message on Gospel Amnesia. Personally, as we tried to live out our sanctification, we got tied up in what we had to do and forgot what had been done for us.  In a very real sense, we needed a reminder of our identiy. Look at how the author Elyse Fitzpatrick describes our identity: "beloved children of God—adopted by the Father, espoused to the Son, and empowered by the Holy Spirit." It is not a message of work, achievement or productiveness, but a reminder that "we already have an A" and now we need to just live like it!
Quietly making noise,
Fletch
3 Comments

Andy Fletcher

Andy "Fletch" Fletcher has been married for the past 22 years. He and his wife Kendra are the proud parents of five sons and three daughters, all of whom keep them laughing and on their toes. During the day he can be found fixing people's teeth, but in his spare time you can find Fletch stretching out a pair of flip-flops, creating a new pizza recipe, playing the drums, or rescuing a piece of his tie-dye wardrobe from his wife's donation pile. You can find him online where he writes on his personal blog: theMangoTimes and cohosts with his wife on the HomeschoolingIRL.com podcast.