|My back yard|
I had a student in one of my philosophy of religion classes who was a follower of Jesus. They loved God and wanted to serve God. That's what they said. They were failing my class, not because of a lack of intelligence, but because of a lack of effort. One day I took them aside and asked:
"You are a Christian, right?"
"Has God called you to be in college?"
"If God has called you to be in college," I said, "then you need to pour everything you have into this and study your face off."
This student was lazy, disobedient, mediocre.
I told them they would never serve on my team if they didn't respond to God's callings by giving it all they have. This is not about a grade or being better than others. It's not about working hard to earn God's love. It is about loving God; therefore working hard at all God calls you to do. God called me to study. Therefore, I study hard. I don't study for a grade, but for the glory of God.
Thomas Merton wrote: "It is the lack of self-denial or self-discipline that explains the mediocrity of so much devotional art, so much pious writing, so much sentimental prayer, so many religious lives." (Merton, Thoughts in Solitude, 26)