Struggling to come up with a metaphor that expresses the reality of my faith that does not include religous-speak.
“Awkward Christian flirting” is about as close as I get. I saw it used in a different contact but it seems to fit.
The bible and christian literature are filled with examples of God’s love for us. I am not comfortable being loved, I love others. But others loving me, I always wait for the other shoe to drop. What do you want? What will it cost? When will it hurt? When we talk about a supreme being of a universe loving me, a speck of germ on a remote dot hurling around a massive void. I have my doubts and If this being does in fact love me there has to be a cost. Isn’t that how most of us live out our faith?
I remember working in a food bank and giving an adult man bags of groceries for his family. He broke down and sobbed, between tears he said, “ If my dad could see me now he would be so angry, because I am not earning this.”
How many of us fall for the same lie.
“If you believe in absolute grace you will fall into depraved sexual sin.” Seriously? Actually me thinks you might be having problems with porn and you are afraid it will come into the light. So, in an effort to explain how deeply the supreme beings love is, we reduce the love of God to a Christian metaphor based upon an old letter in the bible written by a Hebrew King. Then add qualification, just in case it might not be real.
The Heart of God by Francis Frangipane
”Last week I asked, If Christ were in the room, would you enter? How would you enter? We spoke of our sin, fear and shame being barriers. These are due to our perception of ourselves. Yet, when the thought first awakened within you that you could enter His presence, something also awakened in Him. He says,
“You have made my heart beat faster, my sister, my bride; you have made my heart beat faster with a single glance of your eyes” (Song of Sol. 4:9).
Your glance, even if it was no more than the briefest anticipation of being with Him, made His heart beat faster. The King James Version reads, “Thou hast ravished my heart.” Jesus is not returning simply to destroy wickedness; He is coming for a bride. At the end of the age our task is not simply to prepare for the rapture or the tribulation but for Christ!
NOTICE the verse says NOTHING about sin or wickedness. This was added by the author to make a point not contained in the verse.
Let me pause while I remove the from the lint in my navel.
Hmm, would I let my sin hinder me from loving God or would sin keep me from being loved by God. Do we realize how ridiculous this thought is?
What he is trying to express using the book of Songs is the intimate expression of love between two lovers. He is using the example of Christ and His bride, yet he asks us to see through the artificial lens of sin. Instead of the lens of grace, God forbid someone loves us without expecting something.
I have a fundamental disagreement with Mr. Frangipane, but I forgive him because he is emerged in the Christian culture of today and its faulty eschatology. Jesus is returning, the book says so. But the work has been done. We are not waiting for Him to redo what is already done. It is finished, the finishing is ongoing. complete.
That is a topic for a different day.
Jesus tells this story in Matt 25-
Matt. 25:1 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
“But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
“Later the others also came. ‘Sir! Sir!’ they said. ‘Open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
We have a lamp full of oil because, like the Widow at Zarephath we come with empty jars that we didn’t empty or even make that are filled with oil that is just enough. We don’t buy anything.
This is grace.
Ever read one of those statements that arrests your attention and makes you stop to reread it?
Recently reading an email blog during lunch I found two such statements:
- “…According to Tullian Tchividjian, the number one problem in the church today is not cheap grace but cheap law, namely, “the idea that God accepts anything less than the perfect righteousness of Jesus.” I totally agree. It is Jesus who makes you righteous, holy, and eternally pleasing to God. Anything you might add to his perfect work only subtracts from it.”
- “The phrase ‘unconditional love’ is nowhere in the Bible.” That’s because the Bible writers were good writers who knew how to avoid redundant qualifiers. The phrase “unconditional love” is like “sunny sunshine” or “wet water.” Don’t you see? Love must be unconditional or it’s not love. There is no such thing as conditional love.”
Notice the subtile shift in focus from cheap grace to cheap law.
”Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.“ http://www.crossroad.to/Persecution/Bonhoffer.html
There is NO such thing as cheap grace. That is like saying love could be conditional.
The unconditional love of God is absolute. God’s grace is powerful. God’s covenant and fatherhood has drawn us into a family where the only thing that matters is His love shared.
Once we grasp the reality of this the world will change.
I realize that much of what is called Christianity feels like it must balance good with bad to be real. While it is true we need bad to establish what good is. There is a second option that is difficult to fathom, life. Life is the breath of God into Adam’s lungs. It is exhaling that breath over others and sharing in the life. It is the reason for the faith.
John 10:10 The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“The most critical issue facing Christians is not abortion, pornography, the disintegration of the family, moral absolutes, MTV, drugs, racism, sexuality, or school prayer. The critical issue today is dullness. We have lost our astonishment. The Good News is no longer good news, it is okay news. Christianity is no longer life changing, it is life enhancing. Jesus doesn’t change people into wild-eyed radicals anymore; He changes them into ‘nice people…’”
— Robert Farrar Capon