When I look at Christianity today, I know we are hurtling towards the Day. Where are love and kindness and grace? Sunday after Sunday, putting up appearances, we troop into buildings and raise up saintly hands, pretending He can’t see who we really are, forgetting that the God of grace says that it’s all right if we admit to these things and to come just as we are. No questions asked and no plea, except a repentant heart and the blood of Jesus.
Pastors make themselves conduits to the Father. Hard gatekeepers, they don’t shepherd with care, binding the weak or feeding the hungry. Tossing the promises of God aside, we live by sight, not by faith. Faith has just become another fad that the old church lived by. Not us, we know too much. We can make it work. The Word of God is now for sale, promise by promise. They could be yours if your wallet is big enough. We prey on the poor and the widow, the rich and the weak. Prophets utter meaningless horoscopes and hungry young men hope the work of God can be the magic potion they need for their next big break.
Don’t dare sin while you are part of the church. We’ll judge you to hell so much so you’d feel more comfortable leaving the church and joining the world. We are back to the days of the Pharisees where you had to clean up your act before you could come to God. Jesus challenged the establishment then. He rocked the boat. He showed us a new normal. Remember the criminal on the cross? But it’s curious how we now classify sin. Bribe-takers, thieves, liars, affair specialists and professional heartbreakers: well, those are okay. No matter how repentant you are, we are not sure we can forgive you if you are an adulterer or had an abortion.
Today we are the establishment. You only enter when you can look good and feel good about yourself. Clean up your act before you come. Not as you are.
I like grace because it reminds me of how utterly lost, helpless and condemned I’d be if it were not for one irrational act: grace. Yes, grace is truly amazing. Grace is also irrational. Not natural. Mercy is not getting what we deserve. But grace goes miles beyond. Grace is given to the undeserving. And we get favours on top of that. Grace is proof of love. You cannot know how much God loves without encountering grace.
The beauty of grace is that it recognizes just how much we fall short but chooses to embrace all our imperfections. Grace is not of this world. It isn’t normal. It is not good for business. Again, it is because grace is irrational. It doesn’t fit into the way the world works. Because what does grace get back? Grace wants love, depth and meaning. But these are the very things being sacrificed for the world’s definition of success. And that is why the church is called and meant to be different, to be strange, to be weird. To love, to forgive, and to offer a warm embrace. So if we can’t find grace in the church, then all we’re doing is pagan Christianity.
Note: The church here does not mean a building. It refers to a people saved and sanctified to live a life of love to the glory of God.