We, Who Are Too Pragmatic for Grace

One of the interesting things about Christianity (well, depending which part of it you talk to) is that, unlike most major religions, there’s this component of grace that’s extremely important:  no matter what you do, you still fail.  This is why you need God–you can’t succeed alone, you can’t attain Heaven alone, you can’t earn your way to perfection.  At first glance, this rule sounds sort of crap, really.  No matter how hard you try, you will never get where you’re trying to go.  Tough luck, babe.

Getting past that mindset, though, this is one of the greatest things about Christianity–once you accept that you don’t have earn anything (that you can’t earn it, in fact), you’re free to accept that God has already accepted that about you and is willing to work with it.  It’s sort of like the best student loan ever; you can’t pay for this.  You’ll never be able to pay for this.  But God, who is way better than FAFSA, will sit down with you and say, “I know you can’t pay for this, but I’ve cleared it.  The debt is gone.  Don’t worry about it.”  And that’s that.

Oh, if only I could talk my loan companies into being more like God…

But anyway, the bare-bones idea of this grace concept is pretty darn cool.  Not only is God aware of everything going on with you, He loves you anyway.  And there’s nothing you can do about it, as my friend The Interpreter loves to say.  This is a cornerstone of the faith, one of the building blocks upon which all other things are built.  You should figure this out early on.

Because I never do things the easy way, it seems I never accepted this.

Sure, I mean, I accepted the concept.  It sounds great, right?  But in my heart, I knew this didn’t make sense, this wasn’t for me, if God really knew, well….It wasn’t even so much of an “I’m too awful for God’s love” thing, it was more of a combination of that with so many other things that even I don’t fully understand.  But I’m pretty sure I never really accepted that no matter what, no matter what, I am loved by God, I am redeemed by God, and I cannot push Him away.

My friend Interpreter is a very smart man, and a very perceptive man (hence his namesake, even though it’s a tad blasphemous), and he totally called me on some of the manifestations this was taking in my life.  He didn’t understand the root cause, but he knew something was way wrong.  And, as he often is, he was right.  So God and I had a chat–well, less of a chat than a confession, an outpouring, a talk that no amount of coffee in the world could cover–and I realized all of this stuff about grace.  It doesn’t make sense, it will never make sense, really, in the same way that it doesn’t jive that God knows everything about me and yet I still gain from telling Him what’s going on.  If He knows, why should I tell Him?

Grace, in its rawest form, is a really stupid concept.  From the pragmatic point of view that wants the world to be logical, I do not want this fallacy.  From the point of view that says to hell with pragmatics and thirsts instead for a life without the emptiness of separation, the darkness of self-hate, I embrace this gift that comes without demand and wrapped in acceptance, love, and an understanding deeper than black holes themselves.  Praise be to God that He does not wait for me to understand to heap blessings on my stubborn and foolish head.

 

And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand – out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.  (Romans 5:2, MSG)

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