Wednesday, July 08, 2009

On Grace

Stephanie at Across the Gypsy Flat Road has written a great post about grace and sacrifice. It's not a time-consuming read. I'll wait here while you go read it.


I think she brings up some interesting points. My favorite part is this:

It is in this climate that I'm faced with my own calling to love God and my neighbor more than I love myself. I'm not exempt from loving those who hate the people I love, who think I'm wrong, who do not love me back. And I'm faced with the responsibility of raising children who will choose their own path of faith. I cannot choose their steps, but I do have some measure of control over their trajectory. I will tell them who God is, and - terrifyingly - they will probably believe me.

I think that for too long, I have taken stories from the Bible only at face value. There are wonderful lessons, even at face value, but I don't think that's the point of the Bible.

I've read stories that tell me how I am to behave, but I haven't realized that the stories are about more than that. They also reveal a little bit about God's character and how He feels about his children. And the funny thing is that I was content to subscribe to some dogma and think as long as I could recite the bullet points on the statement of beliefs, I knew all there was to know about God. My team had gotten it right. Game over.

But the more I try to delve in and learn about God's character, the more I realize that I've only scratched the surface.

I grew up being told that God is merciful and all that jazz, but apparently that only applied to people who believed and looked exactly like we did. I think there was a big quandry over how to extend grace to someone who didn't believe the "right" things like we did. After all, if you love someone too much and extend too much grace, you're condoning their behavior, right? Where is the line?

I remember nearly losing my cool with one of my parents' elderly friends one time. She was upset because some girl had gotten pregnant out of wedlock and a few people had gotten together to throw her a little shower to help with the essentials.

She was outraged that people would condone her sinful behavior by getting her gifts. Her baby's bottom doesn't need diapers?

Somewhere along the way we have gotten confused about who God is. Does He set guidelines for us? Yes. Does He expect us to follow them? Yes. Is He displeased when we don't follow them? Yes.

But does he offer us forgiveness? YES.

Do we stop loving someone when they make a mistake? Is that what God does? No. If you only love someone while they're doing everything right, it's not grace.

Romans 5:7-9 (New International Version)
7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Yay! So glad you spoke up.

The grace in conservative Christianity is measured and doled out grudgingly. We've created our own hierarchy of sin (why all the talk over homosexuality and none over divorce?) and disregarded that we are all saved only and completely by grace.

I've been a closet moderate for a long time, and I am feeling prompted to speak up more and more. I'm beginning to understand that Jesus desires mercy from us - for freely we have received, now freely give - not sacrifice. But like the Pharisees, I'm still learning what that means.

Great post. Thanks again.