I was playing superheroes with son Thomas, who was 4 at the time, and I had some really good ones on my side: Dr. Doom, Kang, Baron Zemo, the Hobgoblin…vintage Secret Wars action figures. Even the Doc Ock had all his tentacles. My son had Captain America, Spidey, Daredevil and Ironman, and at one point he stood up and protested “Hey I earned you!”
What do you mean?” I asked. “Like you beat my guy and now you own him or something?”
“No! I earned you!”
“So what now, you just think you won the whole match and you own it. Is that what you mean by “earning?” That you have earned it like a prize?!”
“No!” the usually soft-spoken tike said more loudly. Then looking at me like I was thick-headed pole he said “Urrrned! Like… (and he stretched his arm out straight like Ironman’s to demonstrate) “Uuuuuuuurrrrrrnnnnnn!”
I got it. (Then started laughing).
But we don’t. Since at least 62 A.D., the two main enemies of Jesus’ message of grace have been the same two: Legalism or Gnosticism of one virulent strain or another. One tries to earn God’s favor via personal righteousness; the other spiritual control via a superior “gnosis” or knowledge.
It’s like a screwed up factory default so ingrained in us we cannot even see it. When we get scared or angry we snap back to the defaults. It’s costly.
Two facts: we all die; and we want resurrection. The latter is on God’s terms, which is grace. So you can try and “earn” it all day long (and probably do) but maybe the real question is ” is God just “Uuuuuurning you” in the meantime?