Sunday, January 30, 2011

in defense of Grace

I've been trying for an unnecessary amount of time to think of a funny way to intro this post, but alas I give up. The subject matter is too serious and the News too good to distill it with my feeble attempts at humor. No bs. Here are some excerpts from the book Between Noon and Three, by Robert Farrar Capon:

"Do you see... that it means that I may well be wicked at any time, but that I am free for all time of any condemnation for my wickedness? And that therefore I am free to be wicked, monumentally or shakily, alone or with others, in thought, word, or deed - and with no limits upper or lower my whole life long - and still remain free of my wickedness? Was there any way I could have told you that truth without some shock to your system?"

"Therefore let me lay aside my apologist's bag of tricks for one paragraph and say, as a plain Christian man, what you quite rightly fear I am really saying. There is indeed no horror, no wickedness, no evil - no cruelty, no torture, no holocaust in the whole history of the world - that is not, under the sovereignty of grace, already reconciled in Jesus. And there is no perpetrator of any horror, wickedness, evil, et cetera (up to and including Hitler and your dreadful brother-in-law) who is not, in Jesus, forgiven. That is the Gospel, the Good News, without which we are all obviously dead ducks. But it is also, from where we sit, the most outrageous piece of bad news the world has ever heard because it says quite clearly that, on the basis of anything we can know or feel about the goodness of creation, God is bad. All I can say is that I know and feel that too, and that I can only believe in a God who asks me to trust his Word to the contrary in Jesus crucified and risen... So much, then, for the total honesty of faith. Back to the comforts of theology."

"But all the while, there was one thing we most needed even from the start, and certainly will need from here on out into the New Jerusalem: the ability to take our freedom seriously and act on it, to live not in fear of mistakes but in the knowledge that no mistake can hold a candle to the love that draws us home. My repentance, accordingly, is not so much for my failings but for the two-bit attitude toward them by which I made them more sovereign than grace. Grace - the imperative to hear the music, not just listen for errors - makes all infirmities occasions of glory."

"It is Jesus who saves us, not we ourselves. He dies for us while we are still sinners, not after we have managed to get our act under control. He is lifted up to draw all unto himself, not just those who are willing to break their appointments with the compromises of their lives. His reconciliation of all things in heaven and earth is a fact, conditional upon nothing but his own free choice - on nothing but his totally one-sided act of dropping dead on the cross."

"Jesus came to raise the dead. Not to reform the reformable, not to improve the improvable."

"Everyone who is drawn to Christ, whether now or at the last day, comes with his loser's grip on his own life broken, absolved by death. And that means, quite astonishingly, that Christ judges us only as he holds us, not as we hold ourselves. And since he holds us reconciled, it means that the judgment is, in some vast and fundamental sense, rigged in our favor."

"[Grace] is a love affair with an unlosable lover"

The church needs this message. The world, unchurched, needs this message. Yes, it borders on heresy, relativism, universalism... people will argue against it and with good reason. But the Scriptures point again and again to a God who loves and has saved the entire world. It's too late - my prescription has been adjusted and the world looks so much more beautiful through the lenses of Grace. Let the world know: there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, there is nothing we have ever done in the past and nothing we can ever do in the future, nothing in all creation that can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus. Alleluia, amen.

(get the book or come borrow it from me!)


Andrew Hao said...

Amen, Nate. Glad I found your blog.

Anonymous said...

your introduction is an irony.