They say we must first understand our own brokenness and worthlessness to see how amazing salvation is. They say there is some list of right and wrong clearly laid out in the bible so that we might know what is holy and righteous. They say that works don’t save you, but without them we won’t be seen as Christ like. They say that we must be careful to not speak of too much grace for fear people won’t understand the responsibility of the Christian life. They say that even when people hate you and persecute you for it, we must speak the harsh truth to people. They say that it’s loving. They say to not do so is to cheapen salvation and grace and make Christianity into nothing more than a feel good, social club.
That’s what they say anyways.
Three fingers of the 175 proof stuff
I don’t know when we stopped getting drunk on grace.
When we came to God, he reached up to the top shelf of his treasures, and started free pouring grace into rocks glasses. He didn’t even start a tab. The angels had a hard time keeping up with all the orders. Even so, every saint had a full class, high spirits, and the bottle never empties. Sipping or shooting, the holy burn of 175 proof grace kept us alive, lively, and keenly aware of the absolute pleasure God has in seeing us empty his private reserve. The divine bartender was always pouring drinks for us perishing souls in bitter distress. He never skimped on the good stuff.
So why do we?
We seem so hellbent on keeping the rules, playing nice, keeping the party in check. For some reason, we have decided that being a Christian in the blogging and social media world means we need to play divine hall monitor: no running in the halls, no smoking or drinking on church grounds, and be careful not to let people think that grace means they can run amok and God will still forgive and accept them. If your first response to that is to try and explain it away with obedience, let me venture to say you have no clue about the depths and recklessness of grace.
Grace is crazy. Grace is hookers and cheating IRS auditors being invited to dinner thrown in their honor. Grace doesn’t give a real shit about your rules or being nice. Grace is an open top shelf bar at a wedding, with the father of the bride shoving drinks into your hands. Grace never fears being too much. As soon as there are boundaries on how far grace extends, it stops being grace.
I know this is a frightening thought. I know that for those of us who grew up in the evangelical world it sounds like I’m saying there is a carte blanche forgiveness and acceptance of everyone and everything. Well, I am. The fact that the idea of grace for everyone scares us should tell us that there is something deeply flawed about our expectations of salvation.
As if grace was somehow antithetical to the good news of salvation.
Continue in sin that grace may abound?
Go ahead. I know you want to quote Romans 6.1-2 to me.
What should we say then? Should we remain in sin so that grace may be given the more fully? Out of the question! We have died to sin; how could we go on living in it?
Romans 6.1-2 NJB
This is the verse we always bring out to keep grace in check, to stop the party. When ever someone starts getting tipsy on the unmerited favor of God, we throw this verse over them like some sort of spiritual shock collar. “We can’t have too much of that grace stuff now; without proper obedience and behaviour all we would have is…” what? What would we have if we took the handcuffs off and let grace run wild in our pews, streets, homes, and lives?
Here’s the truth: you want to use this verse to make me conform to what you feel is safe.
My life is a mess, full of cussing, drinking, fighting with my wife, mood disorders, anger at God, frustration at life, too much month and not enough money. I self medicate with cheesy sci-fi movies, beer, and cookies. I don’t fit into your idea of a good Christian. I don’t go to church. I stand with my LGBTQ+ friends even though I still have questions. I think your modesty rules are shit. I push back when you spout your spiritual sound bites. I refuse to stay comfortable with your Christian, religious opiates of the mind and heart.
I know I’m a wreck. I know my failure intimately. Even so, God loves the hell right out of me. I am embraced, accepted, and rejoiced in. My life, with all its mess, with all my shitty baggage and failures is welcome. In the very middle of my tresspass and sin, I am loved just as I am. This is the 175 proof grace that I refuse to stop drinking.
Stop trying to make Paul and his letter to the church in Rome an enemy to the unbridled, shining, crazy ass grace that is our salvation.
From Genesis 3 untill now (including Paul’s letters), God has been telling us that these broken relationships between genders and race, these futile work weeks and meaningless paychecks that are already spent, the oppression and power playing games that seem to dictate our days: these things are here because we live a cursed life. What ever the hell happened in the Garden, the result is we became cursed. This is why everything is fucked up. I don’t need you to tell me how much of a mess I am. I don’t need to tell my kids how broken they are. I don’t need to be reminded over and over that I am some sort of wretched worm, capable of nothing good in my life. I already know this shit. I already know how flawed I am. Anyone can look around and see that a broken world; anyone can look in the mirror and see a broken self.
This salvation story isn’t about morality! This isn’t about falling in line and living a nice life that follows the rules. That is not the solution nor is it the salvation. See, something Christians don’t want to admit but that is absolutely, divinely true is this: anyone can be good with out God. All those rules you want to give people to keep grace in check, things like don’t have sex outside of marriage, don’t get drunk, don’t accept homosexuality, love your neighbors, care about social justice and the poor: every one of these rules can be kept by human beings. Even better, we are capable of so much beauty and so much good… without coming to God for salvation.
The thing about a cursed life is this: the curse will get you. No matter the goodness in someone’s life, death will find you. It will find us all. I may kick and scream and fight against my own failures and brokenness and injustice in the world, but none of that will keep me from being buried under a head stone and eventually forgotten. No one gets out of here alive. All of us are cursed. This is the real doctrine of original sin. There is not one area of our life that is not now effected by this sickness unto death. It may be my bi-polar mood disorder; it may be your tendency to self justify; it may be my anxiety and over dependence on financial security; it may be your spiritually abusive vocabulary. All of it is there because we are cursed. we live in sin; we live in this curse.
Eat;Drink; Be Merry For Tomorrow We Live
Stop telling me to water down the grace.
Stop using your blog posts to hint that I shouldn’t be “that authentic.” Stop telling me that I should somehow try to tell people to obey your “biblical” set of rules otherwise I’m not being faithful to Jesus. Fuck that noise! Jesus is the one calling us away from this cursed life spent obsessing over rules, regulations, and righteousness. The whole beauty of God’s grace is this: while we were still cursed unto death, the anointed saviour shed his blood for the forgiveness of every trespass. Then the resurrection began with Jesus casting aside the grave in order to declare all who drink of his grace justified.
The curse is broken! This is cause for a party. Like Paul said:
So then, now that we have been justified by faith, we are at peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; it is through him, by faith, that we have been admitted into God’s favour in which we are living, and look forward exultantly to God’s glory. Not only that; let us exult, too, in our hardships, understanding that hardship develops perseverance, and perseverance develops a tested character, something that gives us hope, and a hope which will not let us down, because the love of God has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit which has been given to us…
You cannot have forgotten that all of us, when we were baptised into Christ Jesus, were baptised into his death. So by our baptism into his death we were buried with him, so that as Christ was raised from the dead by the Father’s glorious power, we too should begin living a new life. If we have been joined to him by dying a death like his, so we shall be by a resurrection like his; realising that our former self was crucified with him, so that the self which belonged to [the curse of] sin should be destroyed and we should be freed from the slavery of [the curse of] sin. Someone who has died, of course, no longer has to answer for sin. But we believe that, if we died with Christ, then we shall live with him too.
Romans 5.1-5, 6.3-7
I’m not saying that life in the Jesus way, that life as a Christian, isn’t different, but it’s different because we live drunk on a grace that is so great, so good, so grand that it can’t help but change us from the shadow of death into life everlasting.
This trend to be some sort of Christian hall monitor, policing mercy and carefully measuring out grace… to put it mildly it’s shit and completely opposed to the gospel. When the rubber meets the road, I don’t give a rats ass if someone is actually wrong on their views of human sexuality or the doctrine of penal substation. I don’t care if you’re a progressive Christian, a King James only fundamentalist, a well-meaning evangelical, or a latin mass saying Catholic: Grace to you from the father of our lord, Jesus the Christ.
Jesus is our hope, our salvation. The free gift of himself he gives to us all. How can we call ourselves his followers and somehow decide that his grace needs to be toned down?
Pour the good stuff, from the top shelf. grace that is 175 proof is what I need, it is what you need, and it is what each human you meet needs.
Freely you have been given; now freely give.