Grace abounds

Standard

Homeless

This week, I had somewhat of a revelation. A revelation of more of who God is and what Jesus came to do. A revelation of what the Gospel really means.

For the past few years Jesus has really been working on my heart and shaping it to look more like His. These past couple of weeks, I feel He has been working overtime.

I was raised in the typical small, conservative Baptist church. Which was great growing up. I felt loved, I felt safe, I felt sheltered, I felt like everyone else. I believed everything the church taught and didn’t think to challenge it.

Until I was about 14 years old, my only understanding of God was what I was taught.

It wasn’t until I went through some really dark stuff that I began to see that church and religion doesn’t equal a perfect and dandy life for everyone that sits in the pew every Sunday.

I didn’t really have a desire to have an intimate relationship with Jesus until I felt I actually needed Him. I didn’t even know I needed Him.

And to be honest, I don’t think I would have ever really wanted Him if I had the perfect “American-Christian dream life” growing up.

When I realized that Jesus was more than what I was taught, and the message the church was giving was antithetical to the life of Jesus, I was pretty angry with the church.

I learned that Jesus wanted everything to do with the dysfunctional alcoholic family. He wanted everything to do with a poor teenager who had big dreams to love on people. He wasn’t mad at my family for not being perfect anymore. He wasn’t and still isn’t mad at anyone.

Ya see, I’ve had a revelation. And God isn’t who most of us were taught He is. Now I’m not pretending to know everything about who He is, but He does reveal quite a bit to us of His character through the life of Jesus. And somehow, the church has missed that.

Somehow, Christianity has gotten away from that. So the rest of this blog, is full of the Truth that has been causing my heart to nearly burst because I want to scream it from a mountain top to the entire world.

This all started when I realized that Jesus is really in the business of loving people. All people. And I didn’t really understand until I fell in love with the people He loved, that love isn’t just a declaration, it is an action.

So whether people are black, white, yellow, brown, green, purple, tall, short, medium, tatted up, not tatted up, wealthy, completely poor, straight, bisexual, homosexual, an alcoholic father or a “perfect” pastor father – every single person that breathes life is worthy of the love of God. There are NO restrictions. NONE.

Now at this point in my blog, a lot of you may be saying, “Well, yeah! Love the sinner, not the sin. Of course you love gay people.”

But really. Do you love them? Remember, love isn’t just a declaration. It is an action. Remember Jesus’s life?

Jesus said we would be known by our love.

I am afraid it isn’t that way anymore. If you ask someone who is not a follower of Jesus what they think of Christians, do you think the first thing they say is, “Oh those people are so loving!”?

No. Most of the time their response is, “Yeah, they are anti-gay, judgmental, and they think they are perfect.” Or something along those lines.

If we are taking on the name of Jesus and nothing else, does that really make us His followers?

Gandhi, a man that I love very much, was asked a similar question once. His response was, “Oh I love Jesus! I just wish the Christians would take him more seriously.”

What was Jesus living out that we aren’t? What was so different about the way He lived and loved?

Now I am going to say something really bold. Really crazy that might make some of you unfriend me, or give me a talkin’ to later. Or maybe even pray for me because I have gone off the deep end.

Here it is, the Law is done. DONE. D-O-N-E. I do not know if you really understand what those four letters mean, but if you are hearing it for the first time, then this may shake your perfect Christian view of the world. Jesus said He came to do away with the Law. Forever.

Romans 7:6: But now, by dying to what once bound us, we have been released from the law so that we serve in the new way of the Spirit, and not in the old way of the written code.

Hebrews 8:13: By calling this covenant “new,” he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

Romans 10:4:  For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes.

I think that is pretty clear.

God knew we couldn’t make ourselves righteous. He knew we would never be able to follow every 613 commands of the Mosaic Law. So He did away with it.

Entered Jesus.

Jesus demonstrated grace during His life on earth. I am sitting here smiling just at the thought of how lovely He was (still is), and how it would have been to sit gathered at a table with the prostitutes, the drunkards, the lepers, the sinners, and Jesus. The God-Man.

He loved them.

I can understand why.

Because they are lovely. They don’t pretend to be perfect or pretend to be righteous, or pretend to have it all together and to be perfect law-abiding religious people.

See those people, are the people Jesus wanted nothing to do with. He couldn’t stand the religious elite. The pharisees. He didn’t care how many laws they followed or how much they tithed or how loudly and eloquently they prayed in the streets.

He loved the people who hungered and thirst for love. The people who had pain behind their eyes and the ones who wore their hurt on their sleeve for everyone to see.

Jesus was an extremist for grace and love during a time of extreme oppression from the conservative religious.

Sound familiar?

And then He left. He left this earth, gave us His Spirit to guide us, and told us to continue. To continue what He started.

Everyone was welcomed into the Kingdom of God by Jesus, so why don’t we welcome everyone? Aside from those who reject Jesus, He opened a way for everyone. Literally. No restraints.

Call me heretical, but how dare anyone say who is and isn’t welcomed into the Kingdom of God.

Yes. This means gay people. Yes, this means the poor and the homeless and the lepers and the drug-addicts and everyone else in between. Yes, the people whom Jesus loved, and still loves, so much.

I feel like I am rambling here, but this is so serious. This is monumental. Please, do not miss this brothers and sisters.

I had a conversation with a dear brother of mine the other night about this. I was wanting another perspective on the Law vs. the new covenant of grace (Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection).

His response was full of more Truth, than I have ever been taught by any church in my entire life:

“They’re directly opposed and contrary to each other! Paul writes all about it in Galatians most specifically. The Law is about what we can do. Grace is about what Christ has done.

Paul would have a fit if he came down and heard all of our ‘you can do it, pull yourself up by your bootstraps, be a better man, morality club, self-absorbed Christianity.’

GRACE is the ESSENCE of who God is and the central message of the Gospel.

Christ came to be and accomplish what we couldn’t do! Now we naturally and effortlessly fulfill the spirit of law which is Love!

Not by trying to do more but by believing and resting in the truths of the gospel. Most churches today, i.e., 90% or more  preach the Gospel mixed with some law and the requirement of our own efforts, which isn’t good news at all.

Grace + Law still equals Law.

Law was all about showing us that we can’t do it. We can’t be perfect and we can’t be obedient in our own strength and ability. But the Gospel proclaims Christ has done it all and we’re not separated from God. God lives in us and gives us the grace or divine enabling to live out a life of Love.” 

Woah. So does that mean that we don’t have to follow the Law to be right with God or reserve a place in heaven? Yep.

To try to add to the Gospel by good works or following rules or making yourself a “better man” is to undue what Christ did on the cross over 2,000 years ago.

I think this is so hard for many of us to understand because we like following rules. We are comfortable being told how to earn something. How many self-help books are there? Yanno, the ones that say, “Follow these 6 easy steps and you will have a better marriage!”

We like having things we can check off our list, so that in the end we obtained something we earned.

Why is it so hard to accept the grace of Jesus? Because it requires nothing on our end. Nothing. There is nothing we could do in our life to earn it.

Being a straight-white-conservative-republican-leads-Wednesday-night-bible-studies-perfect- husband/dad is not going to get you into heaven any more than being a gay-black-liberal-hangs-out-with-drunk-people-college kid is.

Jesus says, “come.”  Both are welcome.

Now if I haven’t already offended you too much, I would like to continue with a pressing concern of mine that has been weighing heavily on my heart lately.

It has come to my attention that many have questioned how a gay or lesbian person could be a “Christian.”

I don’t even understand why this is a question.

But, again, many who are raised in the church are fed some form of Law + grace (as I was growing up in the church), so it is a common belief among many.

Let me ask you, can an alcoholic be a Christian? Can a person with tattoos be a Christian? Can a person who cuts their hair be a Christian? (Insert any other of the 613 violations to the Mosaic Law)

The answer is YES. Do they need to repent from their sin and become heterosexual? No.

If you have cut your hair, ever in your life, do you need to repent from your sin?

Now at this point, I am sure many of you are throwing your hands up in the air or making a mental note to send me a long and thoughtful message about how completely heretical and absurd I am.

You see, as I mentioned earlier, the Law is DONE. That means all of it. All 613 Mosaic commands.

Why can one cut their hair, but not love someone they wish to love? Friends, we cannot single out one command and ignore the rest. There are none more important than the other. And guess what? It doesn’t even matter anyways because Jesus did away with the Law when He hung on that cross.

He said, “ENOUGH! They are all welcome. I know they are messy, I know they do stupid things, but I choose them. I don’t care. I don’t want them to be perfect-trying-to-follow-most-laws robots. I want my children as they are. Dirty, messy, and all so different. They all belong to me.”

Man. I feel like I can breathe. For the longest time, I really struggled with following the Christianity I was taught.

It was so opposite of the Jesus I have fallen in love with. And I couldn’t make sense of it.

Now I know what it is to be free. Free from the Law. Free from guilt, from shame, from self-righteousness or the need to be perfect.

I can be messy. I can shower twice a month and cut all my hair off and not hide my tattoos at church because JESUS DOESN’T CARE.

He wants us. All of us.

And anyone who tries to tell ANY person that they are not welcome absolutely breaks my heart and His.

God doesn’t hate anyone.

His love is real. His love is good. His love is free. His love says stop trying, stop pretending, stop fixing.

If churches actually taught grace and the love of Jesus, imagine the response during altar calls. People sitting in the pews wouldn’t be thinking “well I better wait until next month when I sober up,” or “well, if I just try to be straight then I can get right with God.”

Nope. He wants you as you are.

And please, do not let anyone try to tell you differently.

Grace abounds. Live in it freely. Dance in it. Breathe it in. Share it.

He has given an endless supply.

Thank you, Jesus.

Advertisements

One thought on “Grace abounds

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s