When I was teaching, I sometimes had to field some pretty dumb questions. I know…no question is supposed to be dumb, but when I heard this particular question, I changed my mind.
Student: “Mrs. Bossert, let’s say I didn’t do the paper, based on the grades I have right now and if I get at least a C on everything during the rest of the semester, would I still come out with a passing grade?”
Me: “Really? You want to shoot for a D? You aren’t just a little worried about aiming for a D and falling just a little bit short? You'd roll the dice and be willing to risk ending up in summer school? Why not go for an A and then you aren’t really screwed up if something happens.”
Student: “No, I just want to pass. So, what do you think? Would I still get a D?”
Me: “I don’t know. I was never very good at complicated algorithms. I wouldn’t even know how to begin to calculate that hypothetical. Just do the paper.”
As crazy as the question is, there are a lot of people who face eternity with the same reckless approach.
Some want to know the bottom-line minimum that is required of them.
Some don’t give it any thought at all and just hope for the best.
But the saints aren’t like that. They shoot for the A. They give it all they’ve got. And they know that they are still at the mercy of the one calculating the grade. If they are hovering between two grades, they hope that the teacher will be generous, merciful, remembering how much they tried to excel at the work they were given to do.
Matthew 7:22-27, 13-14
"Many will say to me on that day, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?' Then I will declare to them solemnly, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.' "
"Everyone who listens to these words of mine and acts on them will be like a wise man who built his house on rock. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. But it did not collapse; it had been set solidly on rock. And everyone who listens to these words of mine but does not act on them will be like a fool who built his house on sand. The rain fell, the floods came, and the winds blew and buffeted the house. And it collapsed and was completely ruined."
"Enter through the narrow gate; for the gate is wide and the road broad that leads to destruction, and those who enter through it are many. How narrow the gate and constricted the road that leads to life. And those who find it are few.”
See also Matthew 5 and Matthew 25 (especially the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, which is a pass/fail kind of scenario).