I never fully understood grace.
I grew up in a conservative evangelical church, and have worked in only conservative evangelical churches, where the gospel was assumed and not necessarily displayed or talked about at large…
- If you went to a rated “R” movie
- If you said a “Thats what she said” joke
- If you dated instead of courted
- If you even kissed a girl rather then kissed dating goodbye
…then you might be going to hell, not definitively, just possibly.
So needless to say, its taken me a while to understand grace.
But I think I’m at the beginning of getting it.
Since I stopped working at a church I feel like I’ve gotten closer to hearing God’s voice, saying,
I love you.
I love you.
Growing up it was hard for me to really believe in the concept of a God who will love me no matter what.
- It was always, “Yes, God loves you unconditionally, BUT…”
- “Yes you can enter into a relationship as you are, IF…”
- “It’s grace, AND…”
It’s taken a while but I’m coming to realize the gospel does not include any “IF’s, AND’s, or BUT’s”…
It’s not about the do’s and the don’ts, the rules and the laws.
That’s what I love about Jesus. He was a rebel. He broke the rules. He stood up to the pharisees. He HATED religion.
He made the statement, “I have not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it…” Meaning, we don’t need to abide to, and live by the law in order to earn, or gain His love and attention.
We already have it. Not just the pastors, not just the clean cut, white collared, wealthy, or least sinful… We see this through whom Jesus hung around:
The drunkards, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, the people who were utterly despised at that time. The outcast, the destitute, the marginalized… Those who didn’t belong, and He offered them love, and attention, and a place in which they could belong.
You see… I drink, I curse, I will occasionally smoke a cigarette, and the craziest part of all of this is, I think Jesus is fine with that. In fact, something that might disturb us “law-abiding-conservative-Chik-Fil-A-eating-evangelical-folk” is that I
think know Jesus goes so far as to loving me REGARDLESS of those things.
So hear this:
Jesus loves you if drink so much you pass out.
Jesus loves you if you take His name in vane.
Jesus loves you if you’re gay.
Jesus loves you if you’re eating at Chik-fil-a.
Jesus loves you regardless of where you are Sunday morning.
Jesus loves you!
I’ve always been that guy who speaks of God’s love, has preached about God’s love, but never fully grasped, understood, or experienced His love…
I’m coming to realize “His love is an incomprehensibly vast, bottomless, shoreless sea” and that nothing can separate us from this love, leaving me with no choice but to, as A.W. Tozer says so poetically, “kneel in joyful silence and from which the loftiest eloquence retreats confused and abashed…”
If you let me see the real you, the dark and the light, your wretchedness and glory, your depravity and holiness, the ugly and beauty, I would find you to be wonderful
… And that is grace.
That is the Gospel.