Sunday, March 30, 2014

Just As I Am

Thanks so much for all the kind thoughts expressed and prayers lifted after yesterday's post. Because of people like you, I experience real grace and forgiveness every day.

I have come to the realization that anyone who thinks that USAmerica is a Christian society is fooling themselves. I am not the first to say this; others have long held that we are a non-Christian country. They point to things like illegal wars, legalized abortion, R-rated movies and sexual immorality as signs that we have abandoned God. I am not going to discuss or even consider any of those points today. You see, I think we are beyond being non-Christian. I think we are Anti-Christian at the core of our culture, and here's why- we don't really believe in grace.

Grace is at the heart of Christianity. Every other religion in the world is based on people trying to "earn" their way into the presence of their god. It's all about what you can do, about living your life by the religious law. Christianity is based on what Jesus has already done for us. If we confess, repent, and bow to Jesus as Lord and Savior, then our sins are forever forgiven. And this is true everyday of our lives. With Jesus, whatever we have done in our past, be it good or evil, is irrelevant to God today. It in only NOW that we are in the presence of God. And it is now, because of grace, that we are forgiven- yet again.

The culture we live in, however, has very little concept of grace. People who fail, people who sin, and people who make mistakes that have tragic consequences are people to be condemned and reminded of what they have done for the rest of their lives. They may confess and repent, but there will be no grace. They may even receive a second chance, but there will be no grace- because we will always remember. We love to remind people how they have failed and how we have "forgiven" them. In our society, you are never free of your transgressions. With Jesus, we are free everyday- "and he who the Son sets free is free indeed!

Stop me if you have heard this before, but I am a sinner, and unless Jesus is reading this today, so are you! As the brilliant theologian and musician Michael Card wrote, "I belong to Jesus, and I realize that He loves me- a ragamuffin like me!- just as I am and not as I should be." Confess your sins to your neighbors and see how many of them would love you "just as you are." We, as a culture, are all about people getting what they deserve. And Jesus, as a Savior, is all about people NEVER getting what they deserve! No matter what our sin may be. Brennan Manning wrote in The Ragamuffin Gospel "The sinners to whom Jesus directed his messianic ministry were not those who skipped morning devotions or Sunday church. His ministry was to those whom society considered real sinners. They had done nothing to merit salvation. Yet they opened themselves up to the gift that was offered them. On the other hand, the self-righteous placed their trust in the works of the Law and closed their hearts to the message of grace." Grace defines my relationship with Christ, but I cannot find it many places in our culture. Even our churches often reject those who are considered to be "notorious sinners"- when that is EXACTLY the group Jesus hung out with. If we find grace, the "tent pole" of our faith, to be a foreign concept, how can we be anything but Anti-Christian? Not the kind where we are persecuted- the kind where we just don't get it!

I have come to grips with the fact that the world I live in will continue to punish and seek revenge against me when I fail and when I fall. Society will continue to remind me of my sins long after I confess and repent of them. And you know what? WHO CARES!!! Because I walk everyday with a Savior who loves me just as I am...and what could be better than that?

Because of Jesus,

1 comment:

  1. Susan Mc3/31/2014

    Beautifully said, Carl. And, thank you for reminding me way more than once, that Jesus does, indeed love me no matter what. You are a dear friend.


Thanks for reading,and thanks for your comment!