At times, God will show me something that I’m wrong about. I find myself humbled and thankful that he would be so kind to love me amidst such ignorance. Then, I encounter someone who is still wrong about that thing, and I immediately judge them for not being as spiritual as me. There’s something about us that habitually turns the best of gifts from undeserved grace into deserved veneration in our minds. So we start to believe that God’s love is something which began as grace, but soon enough began to sprout from God’s admiration of our goodness.
The love of God should leave us breathless. Hit us square in the gut, silencing our doubts and fears of never being fully accepted. It should be the water which nourishes our faith. But the awe has worn off and we’ve patted God on the shoulder, telling him that we’ll take it from here. And, now, it is pride which feeds us, fertilizing our hate. The one so deep in debt no amount of work could pay it back, freshly forgiven, is running the streets, pointing fingers at all the other debtors.
We were all born ugly and we’ve found our beauty. Should we then use it to shame others? Because God’s goodness has been superimposed over our evil, is our evil now acceptable?
Because we can’t be the things God desires of us, we don’t then humble ourselves before God as logic dictates, we raise up superficial works that can be easily accomplished as that which God desires. We baptize our opinions as law and wedge them into legitimate Scripture. These clownish replacements for God’s righteous demands make us feel superior, and so we stand judge over anyone who dares oppose us. But, until the church rejoices with the weak, shouting, “You too?” instead of scowling behind pious masks, we say Jesus’ death was a band-aid.
If it were ever about us, and our goodness, God would have sent a holy scoreboard for each believer. Instead, it is about what Jesus did. Because we’ve accepted his love, we’re not then better than others. We are humble receivers of a great gift.
We are the hungry, and having found food, we arrogantly judge other beggars for still being so hungry.
What could be more beautiful than the undeservedly-loved shouting, singing and whispering that the loveless are loved too? Instead of berating them for their lack, we should nourish them with the happy news. But first we have to remember who we are and who God is. We are Sinful. And our sin runs deeper than too much drinking or marital unfaithfulness. Those are just symptoms of who we are. Our entire nature is evil. That’s what we’ve been saved from—ourselves. So, there is no room for pride.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
God forgave us so that our sin is no longer the issue. We no longer have the demand of impossible rules to earn the favor of God, it was given to us freely by Christ. So what makes us so prideful? Is it because we can’t accept that it’s all free? Is it because we feel better thinking we’ve contributed? Believing spirituality is as easy as wearing nice things to a church service.
But spirituality isn’t wearing a tie to church, that’s a cop-out for the real deal of loving so much it may break you in two, knowing that only God can put you back together. Our well-manicured Sunday go-to-meeting clothes are ridiculous replacements for a clean heart that only the death of God can provide. We bite our tongues to keep from saying four-letter words when our tongues are swelled with evil expressions for those not like us. But all any of us has is grace.
All you have is grace.
You are naked and think you’ve succeeded in covering yourself with the abundance of air around you. All you have is grace. We smell of death and the bones inside rattle when we angrily shake our bible at others, but we think the whitewash is good enough. We need a resurrection, not a paint job. We need to lose ourselves in the truth that we are loved not because of what we do, but wholly in spite of it. All we have is grace.
We are thieves and vandals, adopted by a good man who cancelled our debt and announced to the entire kingdom to put anything more to come on his account. Murderers and whores for whom God danced so violently when we came home that we couldn’t help but laugh and dance along.
The dance of the free.
The dance of the dirty, rotten sinners.
The dance of the forgiven.
This post first appeared on Mister Preacher.