Tuesday, October 29, 2013

As Far As It Depends On You, Live At Peace With Everyone

I'm concerned that when it comes to the grace of God, we are all like Jonah, no matter our camps. We become upset when God shows grace, forgiveness and mercy to those whom we consider unworthy. Or who we claim could not truly be Christians.
“You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”
God to Jonah, 4: 10,11 
Deciding who is the recipient of God's grace is a heavy burden to bear on such small, fallible shoulders as our own.

I know that we have each been wounded by people on the other side of our fences. A young liberal Christian has been told she is a disappointment to God for advocating for the rights of her gay brother and sisters. A conservative Christian has been told she must not believe in God's equalizing grace if she holds to the doctrine of wifely submission. These are issues worth discussing and thinking about with grace, humility, and wisdom. We are supposed to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and by proxy, I think we also work out our precepts in much the same way: we are fallible beings dealing with immense ideas. Better to tremble a little and extend grace than stand so firmly on the idea that God doesn't think as highly of those who disagree with you.

There is neither Pope nor American Christian so firm in their opinions (liberal or conservative) nor theologian proclaiming absolute certainty for their precepts that is the gatekeeper to God's overflowing grace and all-encompassing love. The door opens to those who knock, there's no theology exam, there's no wounded Savior checking your election ballot to ensure it's correctness, there's only a God who loves us as we are. Does what we think and do matter? Certainly. And we should discuss it with grace and humility and seek wisdom.  But it is not the criterion for our acceptance, and there is no human who demarcates the lines of salvation. So drink deeply of the wild grace of God, because it's for you, as you are, not as any human thinks you ought to be.

"Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor,serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited. Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everyone. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone."
-St Paul, Romans 12

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