When I had very young children, I used to take them on bike rides in something we called a tag-a-long: a little basket on wheels that I pulled behind my bike.
The name was very fitting, because while they got to go on the ride with me, they had no involvement in the process and put forth no effort to make the ride a success. I did all the pedaling and steering—and in fact, the trip was more difficult for me because of the extra weight I had to pull.
The Tandem Difference
A tandem bike ride is a very different experience than this tag-a-long scenario. When my boys got old enough, we started tandem biking, and it was a big change for all of us.
I was still in charge of steering, so I held responsibility for the direction we went and (hopefully) for the safety and success of the ride.
But now, the boys were involved in the journey as well. They helped peddle the bike, and they took a more active role in the whole process, offering input or making decisions about which direction we could go, how long we might ride, and where our final destination might be.
How will you ride?
This biking illustration reflects how different Christians view their salvation and stewardship responsibilities.
Some Christians believe that their only responsibility is to accept the free gift of salvation. Then, they’re done. They’re on a tag-a-long ride from that moment on. Their responsibility begins and ends with one decision and one time.
While this is a compelling idea, it is not biblical.
Of course, you’ll hear Christians argue that works don't matter—that, in essence, we have no responsibility to be involved in the journey beyond our decision to accept Christ.
But other Christians—those who are living out their walk in more of a tandem style—would argue that God is in fact very interested in what we do after we are saved. And while salvation is a free gift and is not earned, we are saved by grace for good works.
It is our responsibility to be good stewards of the free gift of salvation and to use all of our time, talents, and treasure to expand God's Kingdom. We are to invest all we have for His purpose.
Everything belongs to Him, so our stewardship responsibility is to use everything to accomplish his purposes. And His most urgent purpose is to proclaim the gospel and care for the disadvantaged.
But the lesson also applies to the way we follow the Lord. Often, when we are on a tandem ride with God, we want to get into that front seat. We want to steer the direction of our journey, to be in charge. This also isn't biblical.
God clearly lays out our responsibility to do His good will and accomplish His purpose in our lives. We are not in control; rather, we are to follow Him. In doing so, His strength and guidance allows Him to use us for His purpose.
So how will you answer the call to His purpose? Are you on a tag-a-long or a tandem?