Monday, April 12, 2010

Phil. 3:2

watch out for those dogs

Even in Paul's day there were those who would distract the church, who would fail to fully understand the implications of grace. It wasn't their fault, I don't think they set out to undermine the gospel. They had grown up with the Law and the demands of the system. Grace must have appeared to break all the rules. It still does.

If the truth be told, we find it hard to not have rules. We find it hard not to have a measure against which we an assess the spiritual position of others. So we add to grace. We make behaviour more important than believing and as a result we make belonging exclusive to those who believe what we believe, do what we do, read what we read. When anyone comes along who does not fit our model, we exclude them because they are dangerous or because they just don't fit.

But grace demands more of us than does legalism.

Grace demands that we are inclusive rather than exclusive. It demands that we accept others before we judge them. And I can already hear the questions. Questions I too would want to ask. I remain fully committed to personal salvation through a relationship of faith with Jesus, just in case you were thinking I'd become rather liberal! Inclusive is not the same as universalist. But that's actually not the issue here.

The issue is about the things we might do or expect that make us more like the folk of Paul's day that demanded that the Gentiles become Jews to be part of the new community of faith. Every time we hear the distant echo of "become like me" we should also hear the alarm bells ringing. This is not our goal, and grace helps us keep that perspective.

So look to be full of grace and not full of rules and regulations. Be generous with encouragement and let God do the work of transforming lives.

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