Tag Archive: grace


bonoi like Bono. He has always been one of my go-to ‘Dinner with four famous people past or present’ people [along with Johnny Depp and then i usually take time over the other two, tbV will obviously be hosting alongside me and we’re eating bowls of bacon pretty much]

With all the criticism he has taken over the years [and i imagine he will be first in line to admit how some of it may have been deserved] he still seems to me to be a far better theologian than a lot of the people who are being  ‘followed’, quoted and gushed over these days. One of the reasons i believe this is because he generally has a very ‘what you see is what you get’ attitude – he doesn’t pretend to be anything he is not, usually highlighting his flaws and just being honest about his way of seeing Jesus and religion.

Which is why i enjoyed the book ‘Bono on Bono: Conversations with Michka Assayas’ so much and would be super keen to read it again sometime. It strongly answered the ‘Is he or isn’t he?’ question relating to Bono and being a follower of Jesus that both the church and the media had played up so much when U2 were at their height. He doesn’t leave a lot of room for doubt.

I discovered an excerpt from this book on a site called ‘The Poached Egg’ the other day and reading through it again, i was just inspired again by some of the Truth that Bono speaks in it.

In this first comment, I feel like his first statement just nails it and then simplifies it in a way a lot of people could benefit from:

Bono: My understanding of the Scriptures has been made simple by the person of Christ. Christ teaches that God is love. What does that mean? What it means for me: a study of the life of Christ. Love here describes itself as a child born in straw poverty, the most vulnerable situation of all, without honor. I don’t let my religious world get too complicated. I just kind of go: Well, I think I know what God is. God is love, and as much as I respond [sighs] in allowing myself to be transformed by that love and acting in that love, that’s my religion. Where things get complicated for me, is when I try to live this love. Now that’s not so easy.

In the book, Bono is being interviewed by a journalist named Michka Assayas who he grew in friendship with over the years as their paths crossed. In this next exchange, Bono cleverly sums up the state of much of the western church

Assayas: Speaking of bloody action movies, we were talking about South and Central America last time. The Jesuit priests arrived there with the gospel in one hand and a rifle in the other.

Bono: I know, I know. Religion can be the enemy of God. It’s often what happens when God, like Elvis, has left the building. [laughs] A list of instructions where there was once conviction; dogma where once people just did it; a congregation led by a man where once they were led by the Holy Spirit. Discipline replacing discipleship.

And finally, Bono gives some thoughts on Karma [which he had often spoken about before as the way he felt things worked] and Grace and then, reminiscent of C.S.Lewis’s madman, liar or messiah speech, really puts the focus on Jesus and how He doesn’t leave you too many options in how you view Him:

Later in the conversation:
Assayas: I think I am beginning to understand religion because I have started acting and thinking like a father. What do you make of that?

Bono: Yes, I think that’s normal. It’s a mind-blowing concept that the God who created the universe might be looking for company, a real relationship with people, but the thing that keeps me on my knees is the difference between Grace and Karma.

Assayas: I haven’t heard you talk about that.

Bono: I really believe we’ve moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace.

Assayas: Well, that doesn’t make it clearer for me.

Bono: You see, at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It’s clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I’m absolutely sure of it. And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that “as you reap, so you will sow” stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I’ve done a lot of stupid stuff.

Assayas: I’d be interested to hear that.

Bono: That’s between me and God. But I’d be in big trouble if Karma was going to finally be my judge. I’d be in deep s—. It doesn’t excuse my mistakes, but I’m holding out for Grace. I’m holding out that Jesus took my sins onto the Cross, because I know who I am, and I hope I don’t have to depend on my own religiosity.

Assayas: The Son of God who takes away the sins of the world. I wish I could believe in that.

Bono: But I love the idea of the Sacrificial Lamb. I love the idea that God says: Look, you cretins, there are certain results to the way we are, to selfishness, and there’s a mortality as part of your very sinful nature, and, let’s face it, you’re not living a very good life, are you? There are consequences to actions. The point of the death of Christ is that Christ took on the sins of the world, so that what we put out did not come back to us, and that our sinful nature does not reap the obvious death. That’s the point. It should keep us humbled . It’s not our own good works that get us through the gates of heaven.

Assayas: That’s a great idea, no denying it. Such great hope is wonderful, even though it’s close to lunacy, in my view. Christ has his rank among the world’s great thinkers. But Son of God, isn’t that far-fetched?

Bono: No, it’s not farfetched to me. Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn’t allow you that. He doesn’t let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I’m not saying I’m a teacher, don’t call me teacher. I’m not saying I’m a prophet. I’m saying: “I’m the Messiah.” I’m saying: “I am God incarnate.” And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You’re a bit eccentric. We’ve had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don’t mention the “M” word! Because, you know, we’re gonna have to crucify you. And he goes: No, no. I know you’re expecting me to come back with an army, and set you free from these creeps, but actually I am the Messiah. At this point, everyone starts staring at their shoes, and says: Oh, my God, he’s gonna keep saying this. So what you’re left with is: either Christ was who He said He was the Messiah or a complete nutcase. I mean, we’re talking nutcase on the level of Charles Manson. This man was like some of the people we’ve been talking about earlier. This man was strapping himself to a bomb, and had “King of the Jews” on his head, and, as they were putting him up on the Cross, was going: OK, martyrdom, here we go. Bring on the pain! I can take it. I’m not joking here. The idea that the entire course of civilization for over half of the globe could have its fate changed and turned upside-down by a nutcase, for me, that’s far-fetched.

Bono later says it all comes down to how we regard Jesus:

Bono: If only we could be a bit more like Him, the world would be transformed. When I look at the Cross of Christ, what I see up there is all my s— and everybody else’s. So I ask myself a question a lot of people have asked: Who is this man? And was He who He said He was, or was He just a religious nut? And there it is, and that’s the question. And no one can talk you into it or out of it.

I follow Bono on Twitter and he doesn’t tweet all that much at all. In fact the one time he retweeted me, it was the simple message of ‘Love God, Love people… all the rest is commentary’ which i obviously got from someone else, but which sounds like a very Bonoesque thing to say…

You can read the full interview here.

 

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So recently i have been having some interesting conversations with different people in different places [like in the comments section on this blog] about the whole idea of Grace and how it conflicts with or enhances the idea of Works…

There seem to be two extreme groups of people within the larger group of Jesus followers who get caught up in one, often times at the exclusion of the other:

# the ‘Everything is Grace’ people who tend towards living lives where they are free to do whatever they want to because everything is covered and so in the extreme tend to give licence for ways of living that don’t necessarily fall well within the framework of someone saying that they follow Jesus.

# the ‘Everything is Works and Striving’ people [who would NEVER admit to this being who they are] who exist at the opposite end of the spectrum are those who ignore grace completely, at least in practice and focus heavily on works which tends to manifest as a whole lot of rules of what Christians can and can’t do and ends up being quite legalistic and restrictive. These people are often characterised by feelings of guilt or condemnation because they are never doing “quite enough” to live up to the high slash impossible standard that ‘Jesus set’.

It is pretty clear to me that it has to be both – I feel like Scripture is so clear on this – the ‘Everything is Grace’ people have too many passages talking about the need to do things [Love, forgive, make disciples, look after the least of these’ to ever be able to seriously suggest that ‘Everything is Grace’ means i get to sit back and do nothing. And the passages that dig so deeply into Grace and the crucifixion being God’s saving work [not ours, and certainly not anything we could ever get right on our own] cancel any kind of idea that we are responsible or even capable of getting ourselves right with God by anything we do.

And while Ephesians 2.8,9 is always the go to Grace passage which strongly clarifies that side of things:

Ephesians 2.8,9 ‘For it by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.’

I have always used a number of other passages from different books to back up the importance of our living demonstrating our salvation side of things.

And then last night, in preparation for this morning’s guy’s Quiche and Ephesians session [it’s a thing!] i read this verse that i must have read a hundred times before and just never connected it to the fact that it said so explicitly what i had gone elsewhere to find all these years:

Ephesians 2.10 ‘For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.’

Like, D’uh! Case closed. And it’s not like a revelation of newness for me, but the revelation of not needing to turn so many pages. And kind of a slap to the face and idea that God has probably been lovingly smiling at me all this time while quietly mouthing, ‘Wait, don’t go, don’t turn, it’s right there. Um. Darn.’ Or something.

Grace AND Works. It’s a combo deal. One is the only thing by which salvation is possible. We receive the robes of Jesus’ righteousness over our filthy clothes [or as a complete replacement to] and are made right by His sacrifice. But from then on we are called into a life that looks very much like ‘Denying yourself and taking up your cross daily and following Jesus’ [Luke 9.23 paraphrase] and living out the action of the following of Jesus.

We were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works” – it doesn’t get more easy to understand than that, surely?

Bonhoeffer has some really interesting things to say about grace, including this quite challenging quote:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship

What has been your understanding of Grace? If you had to identify with one of the two extremes mentioned here, which one have you found the greater pull towards? What helped you to embrace the bothness of the Grace and Works? 

a maze in grace

there is a well-known story of a woman who is brought before Jesus for committing adultery.

the crowd and the religious leaders are bloodthirsty and ready to stone her [they have even selected their weapons of choice] when Jesus intervenes and turns the whole circus court on its head and the crowd melts away until it is just Jesus and the woman.

“Has anyone condemned you?”

“No? Well then neither do I.”

And we love this story. We drink it up. We preach great sermons on grace and forgiveness and ask the pointed questions of, “Well where was the man cos surely it takes two people to…”

 

i was thinking this evening about ‘obedience’ – it’s a much harder sell, isn’t it?

it feels like ‘obedience’ has been locked away with all the negative manipulationary ways of ‘getting people to follow Jesus’ like the warning about hell and damnation if you don’t… no, today we have to invite people into a relationship. and there needs to be a strong emphasis on grace.

“Has anyone condemned you?”

“No? Well then neither do I.”

 

the idea of obedience has been bouncing around in my mind over the last few years, never too seriously to do too much about in terms of speaking or writing about it, but just from time to time it raises its head as something we should perhaps be taking more seriously.

we call Jesus King don’t we? or Lord? Lord of our lives. Master… teacher… rabbi… the one we follow.

‘If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’ [Luke 9.23]

it’s kinda there in the contract.

which too many people have watered down in the name of a badly defined grace at times.

because while there is the lack of condemnation exchange between Jesus and the woman, that is not where it ends.

there is also the call to ‘Go now and leave your life of sin.’

which in essence is the call to obedience.

to God-following-ness.

to deny yourself, take up your cross daily and follow me.

 

you see, it IS about grace – the gift is absolutely free, so that no one can boast.

but the acceptance of the gift initiates the call to obedience, which costs absolutely everything.

and ‘complete surrender to God’ [His ways, His plan for our lives, His kingdom] is something that we just don’t talk about enough these days

maybe [we’re all too busy fighting about the definition of ‘a real man’?]

so we can get tripped up by our incessant grasping of this idea of grace as we’ve imagined it to be, as opposed to what it actually is

 

a free gift into a life of obedience, following a holy and awesome God who is completely worthy of that type of commitment

what are your thoughts on obedience? and what it means in the life of one who follows Jesus?

 

 

as i stand so close to the flames

that the tiny hairs on my arms start to catch alight

filling my nostrils with that pungent, burning hair smell

i catch the silhouette of my reflected outline

quietly nodding my silent assent

to those who by their righteous actions tonight

have ensured that this clinic’s business

for the immediate future at least

has been violently aborted

 

as i stand to the far edge of the back of this lively and passionate crowd

i am caught up by the exuberance with which our leaders

are delivering today’s heartfelt message of righteous anger and God’s judgment

on those who would exchange normal relations

for these abominations

not quite confident that God does indeed hate fags as has been so eloquently declared

through the intimacy of a well-intended loud speaker

or the letters lovingly painted onto an otherwise pure white poster

i at least choose to hold my focus

on all those who will be set free

as a result of us gaily presenting our well-crafted sermon

as we came out here today

Lovingly Gesturing Biblical Truths

 

back at home i spend some time online

catching up on the news

all the time dodging the vitriolic and caustic comments

of fellow christian brothers and sisters

resolutely aligning themselves with either camp

and how could you possibly hold THAT opinion

if you have given any attention at all to THIS specific verse?

(“You fool!”… understood.)

 

another moment, yet another person caught in a crime

this time i bend down to pick up my stone

but am stopped in my tracks

by the sound of his voice

speaking these words

so lovingly

‘let the person who is without sin throw the first stone.’

 

and i pause for just a minute

 

as i think it over to myself…

a ticking watch nervously counts down this moment of interruption

my heavy breathing bears testimony to the wrestling that’s going on within my head

as i roll his words around in my mind, this way and that way, looking for the answer

but then suddenly it comes to me in a flash

as i remember that he has already paid for my sin

when he died on the cross

he took all my guilt and shame

and the sin penalty that should have been mine to pay

and he paid for it in my place

and so that makes me sin-free, right?

 

that makes me the one able to throw the first stone…

just like he said.

 

my hand finds a suitably jagged edged piece of stone

closes tightly around it

i can feel its rough edges digging into my skin

i stand to my feet in a single motion

powered up by all the holy righteous anger i can muster

and with every muscle in my body giving assent to my actions

i hurl that stone with all my might and watch as it hits its target

watch as you slump quickly to the ground

 

and, as if the dam wall has been burst

i watch as my just action unleashes the rest of the frenzied crowd

some who had already started to let their personalised rocks fall to the ground

 

again and again the rocks smash against their intended victim

your cries have long since passed

blood and bits of skin and bone fly hideously around

and within moments you are no longer a person

but a grotesque mass of broken body and blood

 

broken body

and blood?

 

as if in a pitch black tunnel just noticing a faint hint of a light up ahead

something starts to swirl within my mind

a recollection, a mass of thoughts, something is trying to be heard

and i try to focus in on what is being said, as my stomach fights against gagging from the smell that is rising up from your body

your dead body

broken by me… broken for me?

no, broken by me.

 

i glance up.

struggling to see clearly with these beams of wood protruding from each one of my eyes

i manage to finally catch a glimpse of him

his face displaying so obviously that this is not the way he was hoping it would end

as if something has gone wrong

gone horribly wrong

but what is it? i did what you said. i did what you have to have wanted. right?

 

and there it is

off to the side, faint and very much in the distance

but there is no mistaking the call of the farm bird sounding the beginning of a new day

or is it the end of one?

nope, there it is again.

and one more time.

 

i realise that the first crow has labelled me a resounding gong, a clanging cymbal

the second told me i am nothing

the third plays out that i have gained nothing

all three signifying that i have failed in this,

in this, my virtuous enacting of your justice

and if that is true, if i have failed in this

that surely means that no part of this was truly Love

 

what is the first commandment? obey the rules

what is the most important? don’t step outside of the lines

what is the gospel? don’t do this long and complicated list of things

GODHATESFAGSGODHATESPEOPLEWHOHAVEABORTIONSGODHATESTERRORISTSGODHATES

wait, what?

 

 

 

 

i stand close to the flames

trying to massage some warmth back into my hands

no-one needs to come up to me and ask if i know Him?

i know my actions have already answered that one

and as i catch my reflection in a nearby piece of glass

i notice the flames, licking at my feet.

 

amazing grace. how sweet the sound. especially when we have a clear picture of what we are talking about…

a friend of mine posted a picture on the book of faces of a Bonhoeffer quote about grace that i really thought was great. because it was a picture i was unable to just grab the text and so i asked Uncle Google for the quote and came up with a whole treasureload of Bonhoeffer quotes of which a number were related to grace and figured they pretty much speak for themselves. but there is some powerful and true stuff here. the main initial point i was looking for was related to when we make grace cheap: the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

 

give these quotes some time and mindspace, cos there is some great stuff here:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost Of Discipleship

 

“Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: ‘Ye were bought at a price’, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“Luther had said that grace alone can save; his followers took up his doctrine and repeated it word for word. But they left out its invariable corollary, the obligation to discipleship…The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship.” 

― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks’ wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?…

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“grace at a low cost, is in the last resort simply a new law, which brings neither help nor freedom.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

 

 

 

aslan“I have come,” said a deep voice behind them. They turned and saw the Lion himself, so bright and real and strong that everything else began at once to look pale and shadowy compared with him.” [C.S. Lewis ‘The Silver Chair’]

There is a crowd. A mob, if you will. Kind of gives the imagery to me [internally at least] of the angry townsfolk armed with flaming torches and pitchforks storming the castle seeking the Frankenstein monster. Nothing can get in their way. Because they are an angry mob.

And so it is with this poor woman. Who, like the Frankenstein monster, is never given a name [Frankenstein was the name of the doctor who created him]. And like the monster, has been turned into this creature of shame, who has committed this evil act and must be brutally killed.

Enter Jesus, stage left…

John 8. 1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives.

2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”

11 “No one, sir,” she said.

“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I suspect we lose a lot of the story by not being able to fully relate to or comprehend the times this was set in. Public stoning of adulterers is not something we have too much of an understanding of. And we know this is a trap to try and take down Jesus [and, as in the way Jesus deals with every attempt that is brought His way, we see His Aslan’ness – He is safe, but not tame – every single time the person who set the trap slinks away with their tail between their legs, shamed and caught out].

What I really enjoy about this story is like the opening Lewis quote – Jesus commands the attention of the crowd but not by loud noise or big action – simply by His Presence. You quickly get the feeling that all eyes are on Him. And then He slows it all down by asking the question that stops them all in their tracks. And then by bending down to write some mystery words on the ground.

One thing this does is it takes the crowd’s attention away from the woman caught in sin. And directs people’s attention to their own hearts. Oh wait, that’s me. Whoops. Oh dear. Um… cheque please!

One interesting thing I just now picked up on [and it is possibly more an internal thing than external, although you may have been able to visualise this to some extent if you were there] is how the posture is reversed. The woman is brought in shamed, face down, slinking in and humiliated while the crowd and the accusers stand tall and defiant, feeling justified and ready to catch this Jesus guy.

Then there is an encounter with Aslan Jesus. It is quiet. And gentle. And direct.

Suddenly the crowd are quiet. Their heads are bowed down. They are the ones slinking away, one by one. Their shame has been made apparent. Then Jesus puts the attention back on the woman, now that it is only Him and her. God’s gaze is fixed on the broken, trembling creation. He speaks words of life to her. Words that restore her dignity. And direct her towards a better way of living. And she walks away head up, confident, feeling loved and restored and feeling the hope that a second chance holds out.

What is really powerful about this story echoes the dual nature of the lion in the Narnia series – good, but not tame.

what might Jesus have writtenThere is a statement that God loves you so very much, no matter what you’ve done or where you currently are at in life.

There is a statement that God loves you so very much, that He refuses to let you settle for being in that place when there is a better place to be.

So I love you completely but go and sin no more. I created you for so much more than this. Keep walking with Me and drawing on the power of My Spirit and you will continue to be changed and grown towards the perfect creation I intended you to become.

[To read the next part on Enough being Enough, click here]

Love your enemies

i came across this article titled, ‘Loving Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’ [one of the suspected terrorists involved in the recent Boston Marathon bombing] shortly after it happened and it really made some strong points in terms of our role as Christ following people in the wake of such a horrific disaster.

the author, Adam Mabry, starts off by highlighting two opposing reactions which are equally unhelpful:

‘The first is the xenophobic, racial, and even religious hatred of my Muslim neighbors. The other is the willful ignorance of the religious connection to these terrorists acts—the blind assumption that all religions are created equal. Neither is good. Neither is truthful. And more importantly, neither is Christ-like.’

Adam then draws upon the ideas in Romans 12, without specifically quoting it, in terms of the need for us to be living with transformed minds or as he puts it, ‘Christians must have Christian minds.’

And then he continues to give four examples of the kind of minds Christians need to have [and i encourage you to follow the link at the end and read the original article in its wholenessity]:

[I] Christians Should Believe Christianity is Right

Certainly not a PC statement to begin with and one we seldom hear much of today, but I completely agree with him. If we are following Jesus it is because we believe Him to be who He said He was and about what He said He was about – it’s not simply because we feel like it’s a fun idea to pursue while everyone else pursues their own equally fun ideas.

‘To quote Tim Keller, “It is no narrower to claim that one religion is right than to claim that one way to think about all religions is right.” It just won’t work to say, “All religions, faiths, and belief systems are equally valid, and if you don’t agree you’re a bigot.” The idea falls in on itself because, in making a claim that exclusivity is wrong, you’re excluding the exclusivist. Darn that logic, ruining all our fun.’

[II] Christians Believe Loving our Neighbor is Right.

‘If Christians really believe Christianity is right, then we’ll be fiercely committed to Christ, who commanded us to love our neighbor. How did Jesus interact with those of different religions?’

[III] We should believe in sin.

‘We shouldn’t wring our hands and have to qualify our hatred of evil. Jesus didn’t. When we see evil in the world, call it evil. When we see evil in the church, call it evil. When we see evil in other religions, call it evil. If Christians, who are supposed to know Truth, cannot identify evil, we merely demonstrate that we are wrong, ignorant, or complicit with the evil we won’t name. This does the world no favors.’

[IV] We should believe in grace.

‘Part of the problem with the culture war was that it went about loudly labeling what was wrong but only quietly proclaiming what was right. If we believe Christianity is right then we will invite everyone everywhere (including our Muslim neighbors whom we love) to experience the grace extended to humanity by Jesus Christ.’

That is just the heart of the article but you can read the rest of it over here.

What I liked about it was that it held strongly to the heart and substance and essence of what following Jesus is meant to be about without sacrificing any of the Grace, Love and Forgiveness that we are meant to be about either. Too often today it feels like people feel trapped into picking one side at the expense of the other. Jesus never did that and we should not have to either.

There is a way to condemn the evil, while continuing to love evil people who are as in need of a Saviour as we once were [and probably still are].

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