Saturday, July 28, 2012

Hold On There, Hoss

In comments, Ben Gosden:
"God does not ask us to change. God does not demand that we change. God doesn't care if we change. God just loves us."

Doesn't the love of God elicit a response of change? "While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. That proves God's love toward us." Is the love of God not the catalyst for transformation? (transformation = becoming more like Christ via sanctifying grace)
I would be more amused if this wasn't something that had been clear (at least to me) for, I don't know, decades.

The comment begs all sorts of questions, not the least of which is, "Um,  so?"

"Elicit a response" . . .  Sometimes the response is running the other way.  Sometimes it's spiritual deafness.  Sometimes it's a shrug.

What part of this comment means anything other than, "Well now, we can't let grace really be grace now, can we?"

Several years ago, I made a comment that, associating with the kinds of people he did, Jesus probably didn't get all schoolmarmish when folks said the first century equivalent of "Fuck".  I was chastised for this to no end, but I stand by it.  That's not who Jesus was.  That isn't how Jesus operated.  So many times, we hear how Jesus told people, "Go and sin no more," except, of course, he didn't always do that.  Neither did he tell people, "OK, I'll heal you/free you from demonic possession/offer you living water, but only if you promise to do good stuff for the rest of your life."  No, time and again we read of Jesus having pity or compassion for those who were suffering, and doing what was necessary to make their lives whole.

We rarely read about how they lived their lives after that crucial encounter, the exception being the Apostles and St. Paul.

Did the Samaritan woman at the well leave the man with whom she was shacking up?  I have no idea, the text doesn't say, and, really, does it matter?  For the reader of the story, isn't enough that this Gentile woman, a despised minority in an unclean land, encountered the Living God in the flesh who offered her love and compassion even though he knew everything about who she was?  When the man blind from birth came to Jesus, he didn't say, "Yup, the dude's blind because his parents were horrible people."  He said, "This man was born blind so the power of God could be revealed through his healing."  What a magnificent testimony that Jesus could see in this individual an opportunity for the revelation of the power and majesty of God!

With no questions asked.

The great gift of John Wesley is the reminder that following Christ offers the opportunity to live a life in and with the full knowledge of the grace of God in Christ.  It is never easy, requiring us to share our burdens with one another, hold one another accountable in love to the promises offered us in the Spirit.

The thing is . . . this isn't a requirement.  We need to stop thinking of it this way.  We need to stop considering it as such.  We need to stop teaching this.  Stop.  Stop stop stop.

God never never never ever ever ever ever ever gives up on us.  We either hold the cross and empty tomb as the lenses through which we come to understand our lives, individually and communally, or we should just say, "To hell with it."  These realities, as the primary revelation of who God is, exist whether we believe them or not, whether we accept them as significant and meaningful or not, whether the human race goes extinct or not.  The first lesson is - God is Love.  Everything else flows from that.  There are no buts, there are no conditions, there are no codicils, no limits.  This is true whether one has never heard the Good News - "Christ died for us while we were yet sinners; that proves God's love for us" is what St. Paul explicitly calls "Good News" - or has lived within this reality all one's life.  The freedom we have from the Father in the Son through the Spirit is real freedom, including the freedom to say, "No".

Virtual Tin Cup

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