Saturday, November 5, 2011

Forgotten Grace: God is not a Deadbeat Dad

God’s message is one of love. Love for all people. Regardless of circumstances, all people are loved by God. If we are to hate what is evil and love all people; people are not evil. Evil is in us not by our effort or desire but because of the Law of God which is in us, part of our nature since the Fall. The Law is our knowledge of good and evil, and by knowing good and evil, we have succumbed to evil. God has created us each in His own image. His image is perfect, and His will is perfect.

Love is a high calling, and it does not keep track of right and wrong. Love forgives and continues to forgive beyond what is natural, beyond the requirements of the Law. Love is extended into grace, which is goodness in place of deserved punishment
We focus so much on our innate evil, and on the fact that all separation between sinner and saint comes down to grace alone. There is no work we can do to attain more favor, more love, or more grace from God; if there were, grace would not be grace but works.

We need to be hospitable to sinners, to the poor, sick, hungry, broken people. To offer a place at our table is to say, “You are forgiven, you are accepted, you are loved.” When we consider ourselves to be messengers of the Gospel, do we know what that good news is we carry?

It would not be good news if we were to be judgmental, to hate sinners, to wage a war on culture and sin. Christ alone was without sin, and he did not even throw the first stone. The implications of that go deep, and they should move us to tears. We have forgotten how wretched we are without God’s grace. I can have no part of a religion where the need to appear righteous before man causes us to refrain to show ourselves as broken and in need of grace before God.

The adulterer, the addict, the homosexual, the promiscuous, the glutton, the liar, the thief, the murderer, and the idolater have a place with Christ at his table. Together they can sit and be friends, sharing life with each other. With them is Abba Father, God. He is a sovereign creator, but he wants to be intimate with us.

When we are hurt and broken and messy, we can come to Him and cry, “I don’t know what to do.” And he will comfort us with an embrace. Even though we are covered in our messiness and he is so clean, he approaches us and holds us and lets us sob. He does not try to fix us or tell us to clean up first. He holds us in His arms until we are ready to talk to Him.

I don’t know many Christians who have that. We talk about grace, and we accept it theoretically. But when it comes down to it, we don’t put it into practice; not for ourselves and not for those around us.

So do we bear a message of grace, or one of condemnation? Are we puffed up, letting our egos tell us that somehow we have achieved a state of being in which we are better than the “lowly sinners.”? We talk about grace, but I intend to start living it because healing does not come from church politics, or missions funds, or manifestos. It comes from the grace of a loving God, poured out freely; loving God because He loves us and forgiving others because He first forgave us.

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