Thursday, April 08, 2010
Some Christians Don't Like Grace
My wife and I have been having a series of conversations revolving around grace. What does it mean? What does it look like? I have dear friends who have been raised in Christian traditions where they do not dance, smoke, drink, or even watch television and- on the other end of the spectrum- friends who claim Jesus wholeheartedly but love movies, smoke Marlboro's, drink beer, and have rough language. For the sake of space we will call the first group "legalists" and the second "liberals" (since both terms hold positive and negative connotations).
Legalists will claim that the liberals look no different than the "world" (i.e. those who are far from God); conversely, liberals will claim that legalists live neither either the grace of god, the love of people, or relevance to the world. Both make good points.
Of course, this is without muddying the water in regard to if someone is in spiritual leadership- should the expectations on them be different?
And all of this is, obviously, the dangerous and offensive idea/debate behind grace. In the book of Mark, chapter 12, verses 28-34 we see Jesus emphasize that the the greatest two commandments are that we should love our God wildly, passionately, and with abandon... and other people as we love ourselves. He says the entire law can be summed up in those two rules. Incredible. The Pharisees expanded God's Law from the Big Ten to the petty 700-ish. Jesus moves the opposite direction.
Martin Luther once stated that when grace is truly found two things run wild: virtue and vice. That is because grace is dangerous because of how much freedom it holds. You can literally do anything and God will still love you. If that scares us it is because it should.
The crux of the matter is how we are showing love not how we are exercising freedom. If we are following the Rabbi will we give up certain freedoms to better show love? Or will we embrace certain freedoms in order to better show love? Say no to one of those and we should ask if we are still following the only two rules given to us by the Rabbi.
I pray you now go in grace, in total freedom and love.