I love the exploration of radical grace! I love breaking it down through the lens of Jesus and His finished work on the cross. So here goes! I love that His Word is true and that it always simplifies my walk. I don't always know where I am going and can't always see my path clearly but, I do know there is a "Son rise" in the direction that I'm going!
The New Testament says, “Mercy triumphs over judgment” (James 2:13). First of all, you read that right. Yay!!!
This proclamation is the most wonderful, simple, freeing, starting point when we are going through the process of rebooting our story and taking back our story. I have had to do just that because of the presence of judgement that seemingly triumphs in Christianity today, particularly amongst the religious.
I, as a pastor... There, I said it! It has taken me quite some time to embrace the work that Christ has done in me since previously in my story, I have seen and experienced judgement without mercy first hand as I sat in the court of judgment with a few of my piers who thankfully offered correction, sought to see repentance in me, but who did not fully understand the authority of Jesus as God to replace Mercy for Judgment. Consequently mercy was absent from any form or opportunity for restoration in my life nor, was restoration as seen in the same Gospel that we all preached, ever factored in and I was punted down field. They have never allowed for an opportunity of Mercy and Grace to be the triumph into my circumstances and unfortunately in the lives of many others. It’s unfortunate but, this kind of religiosity left me stuck in my story and in disbelief that Christ would ever use me in the office and ministry that He had called me to. By the grace of Christ alone and the help of others who understand that Mercy truly trumps judgement, I have been set free and my walk of faith has been simplified.
To be convinced in our hearts that we have forgiveness of sins and peace with God by grace alone is one of the hardest things I ever had to allow the Lord to do. It’s the hardest thing because we are strings attached people living in a strings attached world with other strings attached people. Everything is conditional and often times we have not fully understood the authority of Jesus as God to provide a finished work.
We’ve all grown up hearing and believing that there’s no such thing as a free lunch. “You get what you deserve.” “You will get out only what you put in.” “You want respect? Earn it.” “You want love? Make yourself lovable.” These are just a few of the things we’ve been told over and over and over again. “This for that” comes as naturally to us as breathing. And it’s precisely these attached strings that make life heavy and hard.
What’s even worse, though, is when we think that, because this is the way the world works this must also be the way God works and quite frankly the way that Christianity should work.
But what if it isn’t that way at all with God? What if the ways of Christ were always intended to be the simplest means to experiencing everything that pertains to life and Godliness? What if God’s love and acceptance of you were already completely secure? What if the only give-and-take in our relationship with God is that He takes our failures and gives us His forgiveness? What if when the Apostle Paul wrote, “Nothing can separate us from God’s love” he meant it? What if I told you that God meets our guilt with His grace, our messes with His mercy, and our shame with His salvation—seventy times seven? What if I told you that God only loves bad and broken people who blow it because bad and broken people who blow it are all that there are?
A no-strings-attached God is not what people (who think they’re good and strong) want, but it’s precisely what people (who know they’re bad and weak) need.
The gospel is NOT a “you get out what you put in” religion. (that would be bad news, not good news). Rather, it’s that the bad get the best, the worst inherit the earth, and the slave becomes a son. In other words, Jesus met all of God’s holy conditions so that our relationship with God could forever be wholly unconditional, based entirely on what Jesus has done for us, not on what we do or fail to do. There is no scent of religion in any of that! Unfortunately the mindset, that is ever so present in culturally relevant Christianity and of church building is “you get out what you put in.”
When it's all said and done and when all of the theological and ethical dust settles, it is grace (the seemingly chaotic, cavalier nature of God’s too-good-to-be-true, no-strings-attached, one-way love) that forms our inseparable connection to the God of repeat offenders. All of this provided through Jesus, “The Great I AM”, through the finished work of the Cross of Christ.
Here’s the deal! You will never fully understand His Grace, you will never fully receive his forgiveness, never experience the freedom, peace, and hope he provides, and you will never stop exhausting yourself by trying to do your part, if you deny that Jesus is God. I don’t believe that Christianity does this consciously but I have watched the religious, rob Him of His authority to pull off such abandon, reckless, love. I have experienced the scenarios where Mercy is not allowed to trump judgment, and lived in religious circles that deny the privilege of experiencing no strings exoneration. Their record is not the record of Christ on my account! He died for me and provided everything needed for exonerating the worst version of me! I am the chiefest of sinners, the least, the worst, most loved by Jesus, freed up guy who’s story reads… Perfectly forgiven, child of God. Purchased, Ransomed, Redeemed, and Exonerated. Passionately loved by God!
Food for Thought!
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