This time of year, students everywhere are doing math.
Not just to demonstrate proficiency in concepts on final exams. Many are calculating the minimum score needed to obtain the desired final grade in the class. “I can get a 77% on the final and still keep my A.”
While it’s been a couple decades since I graduated from college, I still witness this kind of thinking.
Except it’s not about school.
It’s about eternity.
In 1 Corinthians 3, Paul speaks to the Christians in Corinth, correcting them for their worldly living and lack of growth in their faith. He describes the church as a building (1 Corinthians 3:9), and suggests that building materials matter because they will be tested with fire:
If what has been built survives, the builder will receive a reward. If it is burned up, the builder will suffer loss but yet will be saved—even though only as one escaping through the flames.
— 1 Corinthians 3:14, 15 NIV
And who wants spend eternity smelling like a campfire? Ick.
I jest, yet what this passage teaches is that while our salvation is secure (we “will be saved”), some of our works for the Lord will stand the test of fire but others won’t. It instructs both that our works don’t purchase our salvation and that He still desires them.
When we, as Christians, are content to merely be saved — to escape the flames — we’re really living an apathetic, albeit eternally secure, life. As parents, most of us would encourage our students to finish the term strong, to give their best effort even when more isn’t required to pass the class. But are we living the way we’re asking them to?
More often than not, I don’t think so. You and I, we’ll have another round of final exams. At the end of our lives.