Law and Grace
Why are some members of the Christian Church so confused?
We hear so many theories on the subject of balancing the law and grace. Unfortunately there is no balance. Their contradictory and fly in the face of each other, leading to confusion and destruction.
Imagine that you have purchased a home. You have a contract that discusses mortgage payments and interest. You are bound to this contract and if you don’t adhere to the contract you get penalized. You live under this contract for many years. You adhere to it the best you can. If you make a mistake and don’t make your mortgage payment on time, you have to pay the penalty.
One day you find out that a loving family member has died but had taken out an insurance policy on your home mortgage. The insurance company has paid off your mortgage in fall and you receive a clear deed to the property.
The law and grace are virtually the same kind of contract. Under the law you have responsibilities to adhere to the contract or covenant, and if you don’t adhere to the contract, the consequences are sacrifices to atone for your wrongdoing. But when the covenant is fulfilled, you no longer live under the obligations of that contract. The debt is paid in full. You cannot juggle the law and grace any more that you can juggle love and fear. You cleave to one master or live in double mindedness and confusion. We may use the term Judeo-Christian, but in reality they are a contradiction in faith and spiritual direction.
Too many Christians point to the past for direction, like the Jews pointing back to Egypt because they are afraid to trust that there is something too good to be true, ahead of them.
This is something we have to walk through but the apostle Paul indicates that it’s time to put away childish things.
As Christians we are saved by grace.
In years past there has been talk of “choice”. When it comes to flavors of ice cream it’s great to consider the options. When it comes to gender, we all better conform, right? I don’t think so.
What does “choice” mean? In the area of sexuality, some in the Church have barrowed the concept of “learned behavioral response”, and have really done an injustice to the human race. Learned behavioral response is simply the act of learning to respond to an act or set of circumstances. Consider a situation involving your childhood. You were never allowed to have friends over to your house because they might make a mess. You grow up, get married, and your spouse wants to invite company over. It really makes you uncomfortable and you resist. “Honey, why can’t we ever have company?”, they ask. You have long forgotten the rule of your childhood. So, if you have forgotten, are you really making a clear choice? Where is the free will?
Now let’s consider “genetic predisposition”, the way we are hard-wired genetically. My taste buds like chocolate ice cream and yours like vanilla. My optic nerve likes the color blue and yours likes red. You like sports and I like sewing. You like the opposite sex and I like the same sex, or dressing differently, or thinking differently, or loving differently.
Who did you want to be when you grew up? There are some things we get to choose and there are other things, through creation, that are chosen by God.
Let’s support one another, exploring human issues and advocating the right to be honest with ourselves, with our families, in the Church and in the world.
It takes a lot of guts to be honest about the simplest things sometimes. Do we share what we believe, or hide? God is with us.
Let’s consider original sin for a moment. The apple was eaten, God enters the garden and asks the couple why they are wearing fig leaves to cover themselves. Now it isn’t like God didn’t know what was on the minds of our two Eden dwellers but the dialog was to point out that something dramatic had changes from the beauty of innocence to a broken knowledge. There was now a barrier between Him and them. The barrier was the knowledge of shame.
Throughout the ages, the Bible reveals the hopes and corruption of the human race. We are given instruction by prophets who tell the people that goodness is the goal, not wealth, not power, even wisdom can be twisted, but a relationship with the true and living God is the direction of fulfillment.
Now a man-god comes onto the scene. Ordinary in appearance and contrary to the traditions of the culture he is to guide. This part of God becomes man and moves among us. After teaching us to love, is murdered, just like the prophets sent before him. As this man departs this earth, among other things, he takes shame upon himself and just like the shame revealed in the story of Eden, is separated from the divine as part of his mission to restore innocence and a relationship that is so original that any person can come before God directly, without priests, or church or tradition.
Easter is the time we consider the actions and consequences of a God who restores divine relationship.
There is a good way to read the Bible and there is a bad way to read the Bible. What?… a bad way to read the good book? Indeed there is.
One method of learning and understanding of the Good Book, is to read several chapters a day. Within a year you have the whole Bible read. Sorry, this is a sloppy learning technique. The chapters might end mid-idea, from one chapter to another. Let’s take Romans Chapter 1. Let’s say you read the first chapter and then put it down and go bed. You have just lost the whole point of where Paul is going with his ideas. You end up thinking that maybe God wants you to kill your children because they are disobedient, right? After all, a child’s disobedience should be met with death since they’re actions are an abomination before the Lord. Romans 1 is Paul’s intro into the whole concept of grace. Read the entire letter, again and again. It will astound you.
The fact is, Paul wrote the text to be read like a letter, without breaks of chapter and verse. The history of the breakup of the Bible is found at: http://www.bible-researcher.com/chapter-verse.html. When we read the Bible the way it was intended, we glean more of the spirit of what was intended. When we break it up, and some ministers are taught in theological school by professors that do this very thing, we get bad teaching that promotes all kinds of crazy thinking.
Paul said in 2 Timothy 2: 15-
15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 16 But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. 17 And their message will spread like cancer. Hymenaeus and Philetus are of this sort, 18 who have strayed concerning the truth, saying that the resurrection is already past; and they overthrow the faith of some. 19 Nevertheless the solid foundation of God stands, having this seal: “The Lord knows those who are His,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of Christc] depart from iniquity.”
I was four years old when I accepted Jesus. And thank you Jesus! That was long before hormones ruled and condemnation entered the picture. I was not immune from the slings and arrows that Christians, not Jesus, threw. I fell many times listening to the evil things exposed by a “good Christians”. What I was slow to pick up on was Jesus was always there when I reached out. I grew up a preacher’s kid and saw my father treated terribly by Christians. My mother even told me the reason was, “God knows the people that really need saving.”
I once found myself in a jeep on the Olympic Peninsula being driven by a highly intoxicated twenty-something, on a narrow gravel road at high speed. The guy asked me if I was afraid. I said, “No.” He turned the headlights out, and asked me, “Now?” I turned to him and said, “Jesus has a plan for my life, you are safer with me in the car.” He slowed down, turned the lights on, and never spoke to me again.