I was checking out Paul Anderson-Walsh's blog and found one very encouraging to me...
Beyond doubt the single greatest difficulty in accepting grace unconditionally is coming to terms with the fact that grace accepts unconditionally. It is interesting how much latitude that we are prepared to grant to ourselves and correspondingly how little we sometimes afford one another. To rephrase Oscar Wilde “Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend; it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s excesses.” What is excusable le when I do it is often inexcusable when done by others.
I have recently been party to some robust and lively discussions in our Forum, which if anything has helped me to see that the truth is that all of this religious lava and vitriol that we encounter when we set forth our message amongst the religious folk is really nothing more than an offended sense of justice brought about by a perverted definition of God’s justice and a complete misunderstanding of unconditional love and acceptance. I don’t like all this “God loves you just as you are but loves you too much to leave you as you are” nonsense because hanging in the air like cheap perfume is the unmistakable stench of legalism that says that you’re saved by grace but now that you’re in this church you’re gonna be conformed into OUR image and likeness. So not only have we re-made God in our image we also remake others in our image of what God likes. So that’s all very dreary indeed.
It seems odd to me that certain sections of the Christian community almost delight in the hope that one day God is apparently going to come and toss a whole bunch of people into the Lake of Fire. [Oh and if my maths are right that will be about 90% of all persons that have ever lived on this planet! – and that seems like breaking the omelet to make a few eggs to me – but what do I know?] I think old Bertram Russell may have spoken from the Throne Room when hew said that “The infliction of cruelty with a good conscience is a delight to moralists. That is why they invented hell.” Not that I think we invented hell or anything anymore that we invented God – both are real but I am pretty sure that we have a distorted view of both
It is sad when one thinks that it is Christians that put Russell off of Christianity. We managed to do the same thing to Ghandi, who having experienced rejection first hand by the church here in England looked elsewhere to satisfy his spiritual thirst. Yet in spite of which he did at least manage to see that Jesus Christ belongs not only to Christianity but to the entire world, to all races and people. I think that’s my point, the hallmark of any Grace Community needs to be acceptance. The brand of un-accepting fundamentalism that some folks call Christianity is not very helpful is it and doesn’t remotely reflect the heart of God.
Q: “Well does that mean that anything goes down at your place?”
A: “Umm well no not really it just means that they don’t get ejected from the Celestial Big Brother House and those of us who are spiritual [i.e. not Elder Bothers] restore those who are behaving as those they were not.
I personally am of the view that people don’t go to hell if they live an “inappropriate” lifestyle any more than people go to heaven if they don’t. The Hotel Hades is for those who were too stupid or cynical to accept the al expenses paid free holiday of an eternal lifetime in the Son.
Now that’s not to say that we preach a Sinner’s Charter, we don’t. What we do say is that you will never be punished FOR your sins but you’ll very likely be punished BY them. Sin has forever been dealt with by God – it is wholly and permanently irrelevant as far as our relationship with God is concerned. The problem with sin is that it self-harms and harms others. However, the moment that you start talking about God punishing you or others for sin or about Him withholding forgiveness etc you introduce fear into grace and both pervert the gospel and prevent restoration. The Gospel of Grace is not law-less it is law-free.
People write to me from time to time about certain “ethical” situations in the hope that I will offer them a doctrinal opinion but I always send them away disappointed as I don’t happen to believe in so-called Christian ethics as I greatly suspect that it is just legalism by the back-door.
The church is supposed to be a spirit led group of people who are enjoined into the circuitous process of becoming who we already are. We teach about identity … that’s the key to be able to discover who you really are. For my part, I can say that real me is Christ as me and that drives my behaviors/attitudes, I simply allow him to express His nature through me. I have learnt over the years that to do anything else, be it of either the self-righteous or unrighteous variety is sin. So it’s a moments like these when I am pressed for a verdict I find myself kneeling down and begin writing in the sand. I usually find that the oldest leave first and then I withdraw too and then when there’s just you and Jesus left; you’ll hear him saying “Neither do I condemn you.