This may sound a little heretical but just bear with me for a moment.
It seems to me that in a lot of our evangelism, we can “over-emphasize” grace, forgiveness and sin as the motivating factors. Certainly, an understanding of sin and the breadth of God’s grace and forgiveness is absolutely necessary. However, if we talk only about grace, sin and forgiveness, we can get ourselves into a couple of traps.
First, we can be tempted to come to God solely for the benefit of sin-removal. This is the “fire-insurance” trap. With sin removed, nothing else changes. We view salvation as a method of getting rid of something, but not necessarily of gaining anything.
Second, we can be tempted to make a prayer of forgiveness into a magical formula. We sin, and then we say a prayer, God forgives us, and wipes it all away, and we continue on. This can become a license to sin, clothed in the excuse of an unbreakable pattern–”It’s just so hard.” And it often is, I’m not denying that–but we can’t view the prayer as magic (as others have blogged on recently).
Third, we can be tempted to view our relationship with God on the basis of how bad a sinner we are. If we really “aren’t that bad”–I’m not a mega-thief, or a murderer, or a rapist or the like–then my need for God seems to be a little bit (or a lot) less.
So what do we need to balance it with? This is just a rough thought right now, but it seems to me that we need to balance with the glory of God and the personal relationship that we have. In other words, we look not just at what we lose (sin) but also at what we gain, as well as at the fact that service to the Sovereign God of the Universe is our responsibility.
What is it that you gain when you are a follower of Christ? Salvation can be viewed as a one-time event, but what goes “on and on and on”? Eternal life is just the start, of course. What else can you think of?