Jabcat, I've truly enjoyed ALL of your posts. I've found there is much in common with what you say and what I think. In reading some of your background. . .even that is similar, all though mine was not of a Baptist background . .but pentecostal . . .which really doesn't matter because I'm learning that the label on the front may be different, but the enforcement within is just as brutal . . . same song, different verse.
And like you, I also have a twinge of unsettlement every time I see the works are raised to the same level as the grace . . .even the faith. It is because of Grace that I am enabled to receive "anything" . .so for me . . .it all starts with Grace . . .and it's my "faith" that activates the grace in me. I believe, therefore I "am".
Why the need for the measuring at all? Why the emphasis on works at all? Whether it's the works of Christ or the works of flesh, to me . . .for me to conciously focus on either one of them is not where the relationship is at. Relationship is in the person, not in the attributes of the person. Jesus went out of his way to bring healing to the body through "his" grace, mercy and love. 'My' yoke is easy . .my burden is light . . .
As he lives in us, he matures us, he gives us direction, he gives us strength to move in the direction of his choosing . . . When I begin to focus on trying to do what he did, walk like he walked, think like he thought . . .all of that, when I begin trying to follow that through my concious choice, I have gone from pursuing Christ . . .to idolizing the fruit . . . the truth is . . .as you pursue Christ . . . those things take on a life of their own "in" me without me trying to purposefully do them. He changes my desires, he changes my appetite for what is good and what is bad. But it's not because I chose that diet, but because he put a desire in me to do that.
Actually, I speak metaphorically, but this is also something that has happened to me literally . . . for the past month or so, I have been craving salad . . .all the time . . . even as I write this, I have a bag next to me with a mix of calliflower, celery, carrots, broccoli and cherry tomatos . . .this is not how I used to eat . .but my appetite has changed. I don't eat the same things I used to eat when I was in my youth . .as we mature, spiritually as well . . .as we mature, he changes our appetites.
I just don't feel comfortable telling people they must combine works in with their faith in order to gain, or maintain their salvation. It's not about me . .it's not about my success or failure . . .I'm supposed to decrease so that he can increase . . .it's as Paul said . . .I pursue Christ and him alone . .everything else is secondary after that.