I think God has got something wrong. Before I go any further I should warn you that this bloggage could be interrupted by a bolt of lightning as I explain my heresy, so if there is an unanticipated interruption you will know what has happened.
So, gulp, here goes.
I think that God has got this whole ‘grace’ thing wrong. I mean, it’s just too easy isn’t it? If / when we stuff things up / make a mistake / fall from grace / backslide / stumble* (*or insert whatever euphemism for ‘sin’ you like) all we have to do is go back to God, say “sorry” (and mean it) and ask for forgiveness and a fresh start.
And he does it!
And there is no cost on our part. Because of Jesus’ death he’s done it all.
And that’s his mistake I think he has made it too easy. If we had to do something, anything, to earn our forgiveness I think we would take it a bit more seriously, wouldn’t we? What if we had to pay a penance in order to seal the deal, or even just to show him how really sorry we are? What if we had to do something positive or we had to suffer something bad to redress the karmic balance of the Universe? That would be fair, and it might make us think twice before we fell off the wagon* (*or insert whatever euphemism for ‘sin’ you like – in fact do that every time you see a *).
Because he’s done all of the hard work to achieve our forgiveness, because his grace is so lavish and generous, we take it for granted like a spoilt child who knows that if they get into debt millionaire daddy’s credit card will always come to the rescue and get them out of troub…
Actually, that’s a bit more like it, isn’t it? Isn’t it easier for us if God is sitting at his computer with his finger poised over the ‘smite’ key when we get things wrong? At least that way we know we will get our just desserts. And that might make us pause a bit longer and perhaps think before our next moral failure*.
So, and I may be being a bit presumptuous here, hasn’t God got it wrong with this grace, unlimited forgiveness, limitless love thing? Hasn’t he heard of ‘tough love’ or ‘spare the rod, spoil the child’?
At this point some of you may be expecting me to stop the rant and say something that turns it all on its head. But I am not going to. Because God has got this wrong. It’s too easy. It’s unfair. None of the other religions in the world make it this easy, do they? They have lots of penance, sacrifice, karmic retribution and good works to balance out the scales and make it more likely that we will be accepted into heaven / reincarnate as a better being / achieve Nirvana (or whatever they say happens when we shuffle off this mortal coil). At least with them we have something to do. At least we can contribute to our own redemption.
And that’s the crazy thing about this little thing called ‘love’. God loved the world (aka you and me) so much that he gave… Jesus’ death has not so much improved things for us on the balance of probabilities, he has blazed the trail and made our forgiveness, restoration and acceptance by God a nailed on certainty (literally!). Perhaps it’s not so much that God has made it too easy. Perhaps it’s more that without Jesus it’s too hard for us. We can’t do enough to absolve ourselves of our slip ups*, That would be like being a billion pounds in debt and going to the bank with your piggy bank and asking if they will take that instead, or perhaps even asking if you can write them a cheque from that account.
And when we realise that while it’s easy for us it was not easy for Jesus, when we grasp the extent of God’s love, when we sense how seriously he takes our lapses in judgement* and the lengths he has gone to in order to deal with them, then perhaps we look at things from a different perspective.
Then grace does not look so cheap. Then our blunders* become less trivial. Then we realise that it’s easy for us because God loves us. Then we recognise that God has accepted the inequity of the situation. Then we understand that to trivialise and take forgiveness and grace for granted is probably more to do with our own self-centredness*. Then we understand that the attitude with which I began this bloggage is to do with my own ability to trivialise the significance of what I say / do / think and an unwillingness to think about the bigger picture. Then we start “to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:18-19)
That is the sort of thing that can drive you to your knees.
Which is a good place to start again.
Be blessed, be a blessing