Today's Religions: Looking for the Gospel Amidst Jesusland

Most good ideas or discoveries can be used by Christians to defeat their own message of grace.

In fact, holding on to grace is like trying to play water polo with a greased watermelon in a swimming pool.

Grace says that for God to save you there’s nothing ultimately left in the category of “you have to.” But someone says “you have to feel close to God in order to know you are saved.”   Someone else says “you have to conquer that particular sin if you are really saved.”  Rituals, confessionals, finances, alcohol, clothing, swearing, evangelism, haircuts and tattoos have all had their role in church people getting grace wrong.

Even the theology of grace can become non-grace.  A tradition has a re-discovery of the message of forgiveness (“justification is by faith, not by works!”), but as they joyfully grasp hold of the new concept they end up turning the beloved theology into the thing you need in order to be justified (“Justification by correct theology”).

Being that it is this difficult to stay centered on the odd message of the Christian faith, there should be a sign hanging at the entrance to any house of worship: “Beware of thine own propensity to twist Christ’s message!” But then again, we’d probably eventually twist that into saying “there’s no grace for those that twist Christ’s message!”

Forever will this prayer be relevant: God, help us to get grace.