There’s quite a lot to your two posts! I would respond to everything with as much detail as I could muster but responsibility bids me take on something smaller. And so I’ll be focusing on a single statement which I hope might contact everything in some way. You say of the passive righteousness of faith:
In a way it sounds lazy
I can understand why you say as much. “If there’s nothing we need to do to become children of God then what’s to stop us from sitting on a couch all day, eating chips, letting the world go to hell.” Likewise: “What about all those non-Christians who dedicate their lives to being of service to others? How could God ignore the efforts of a pagan but love a lazy Christian? This is potentially and likely very unfair.” (I hope my fictional dialogue at least hints at the “essence” [if there is such a thing] of your concern; I’d hate to build a straw-man or the misinterpret your concern)
If this ersatz dialogue resonates with you, it is a legitimate point! A point which could be divided into two (and God I pray I do a faithful job of parsing them out lol): (1) Justification and (2) the life of the justified.
(1) Justification. That our position in the eyes of God is not related to our acts is, worse than the definition of laziness, but the definition of grace. (Rom. 6:23) If our position in the eyes of God were at all related to our behavior and choices then we would spend the next 1500 years attempting to hammer out a system which makes sense to us, our views of the world, and we would end up getting nowhere. How is it reasonable that a tiny, you, a finite bundle of atoms in a human form, influence the “dispositions” infinite and almighty God who creates universes with a whisper (whatever the word “dispositions” even means when speaking of such a being)? How could you know for sure that you had done enough to “tip the balances in your favor”? And if you thought you could do such a thing as influence the almighty in your favor by doing good things, is that not the epitome of hubris, pride, and attempting to usurp the almightiness of the Almighty, to displace Christ and his work, and to place an impossible burden on the shoulders of humanity? Even if our sensibilities do not agree with God, God is adamant that saving us is his job and not ours. Our quibbles over laziness (in the sphere of salvation) are against God, not against the speculations of theologians or the opinions of humans. (Eph. 2:9; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 2:16; etc.) While there may be numerous people deemed honorable in the eyes of fellow men; we are not dealing with men (or women or any rendition of humanity), here, but with God. The only way we can know with certainty anything about him is what he tells us. And, in brief, what he has told us is what he did through Israel, in Christ, continues to do in his church, and will do at his second advent.
Being confident of our salvation, however, leads into (2) the life of faith/living by faith/faithful living. St. James confronts this issue head on. “Faith without works is dead.” (James 2:14-26) That does NOT mean salvation is based on works. To assert so is bad exegesis. What it DOES mean is that if one is gripped by God’s promises, if one is “filled” with the Spirit of God, if one has faith/trusts that God is, in fact, God, and not just any God but the God who creates ex nihilo, who justifies the ungodly, who came in human likeness to rescue humanity, and who loves his entire creation, then one “bears fruit” accordingly:
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.
Salvation by grace does not give the Christian a reason to be lazy (Rom 6:1-2) but, contrariwise, creates a new need and impetus for great deeds of compassion. Compassion and mercy not to “merit eternal life” or because God needs us to do good things. But works of love, charity, and compassion because, as Luther pointed out in contradistinction to the monastic and celibate tendencies of Rome, our neighbors need our good works. Channeling a particular Dr. Carter from my days gone by, “Babies need the diapers changed!” Being justified by God’s grace alone, for Christ’s sake alone, received in faith alone, Christians find themselves finally alive to and as a part of the real creation, as they are finally alive to their creator. While they certainly struggle with sin to the day they die (simul justus et peccator), they are nevertheless living out their salvation, being careful as they can to do what’s good, right, and salutary. (Phil. 2:12)
Thank you for reading this far, I know I’m long winded and I pray for our moderators haha. How does any of this sit with you?