A Junkyard Of Grace
|God suffers from guilt by
association with bad religion.
The answer then is not to reject God but to purify the
conception of God so as to take the badness out of
religion. Are we not the heirs of the Puritans? Let us
then purify God for those of us living in contemporary
Should we not simplify God by removing the vestiges of bad religion. Is this not why we are called to be Protestants? To simplify the understanding of God and return to New Testament basics. The foundation of the New Testament is love.
How do we get rid of bad religion? One way is to set up for ourselves a proper sense of the degrees of grace. That is setting up a true sense of good priorities.
After all, this is what Christ is doing in John 8: 4-9. A woman is taken in adultery. The Law Of Moses said she should be stoned. But Jesus was preaching the Covenant of Grace, the love that fulfilled the Mosaic Law. So he said to a group of potential stone throwers that the one lacking sin should cast the first stone.
But the scripture says the people hearing that were CONVICTED BY THEIR CONSCIENCES so the crowd dispersed and the members of it left.
Jesus had shown them clearly that the Law of Moses had grace but was superseded by the law of love and grace. Here was Christ showing the degrees of grace. (It is to be noted people had the right hierarchy of grace within their consciences already. Jesus just brought it out. He preached the Word simply: the one without sin should cast the first stone.)
The Law of Moses was not no-grace. It was lower grace compared to the greater grace in the New Testament. The greater grace that said if love were preached, conscience would awaken.
It is of vital importance that people in grace recognize the degrees of grace, the hierarchy of grace, in order to live well and make right judgments and decisions. Otherwise they may have bad religion. They can become stuck in low grace religion. And while low grace religion may be better than none at all, we should seek for all men a high grace religion. That is a religion very full of love and grace.
It is not so much the denomination you belong to, as the grace that is in it, and the grace you bring to it.
Believers in Jesus as the Son of God, recognize you must sort out priorities in grace. It is wise to construct or make a hierarchy of grace that you may judge by, live and love by. Otherwise you may fall into questionable religion through bad priorities. Then God may be rejected by the guilt of your association with it.
Belief in God is not encouraged by low grace religion. Rather I think man is immunized by low grace religion against high grace religion. A little immunizes against a lot. The low grace person will be more apt to frustrate grace, having been dipped in moderation and dried in indifference.
Low grace religion is more likely to be violent, to be mean, to have enough religion to fight by, but not enough to live by. Low grace religion has only the veneer of righteousness. It is not solid wood through and through. It is human nature touched up but not redeemed by a fuller measure of grace. It is cosmetic religion.
People tend by their selfish natures to be one dimensional thinkers and not transcending in thought. Because of original sin, people tend to be literal, too literal, going beyond the spirit of the law to the letter of the law.
Recognize that grace is a measurement thing. There is a hierarchy of priorities that should be established to live a spiritually balanced life.
For example, materialism is not bad in itself, but obsession with it, which is a common enough thing, puts “things” first and trivialize life. Your life can then be reduced, which is common, to a monomania over money, a collection of things.
I would not have you think I oppose materialism, or Christ does, but He wants it held to its proper place in a righteous ordering of things.
After all, let us be reasonable. You don’t NEED that much but you WANT a lot. What should come first is a spiritually balanced life. Let materialism have its place in the proper ordering of things. Remember the admonition of the Apostle: “Let all things be done decently and in order.” (I Corinthians 14:40)
Before us we have a society eaten up with the cancer of materialism. People have lost their proportion about wants and about money, to say the least. Is there not a sense of proportion in a spiritually balanced life? Of course there is.
Unless you make a hierarchy of grace to establish you in God, you will have a bad religion. And God help your world. Your religion may be a curse on all as religion sometimes can be.
Should you not get in a faith that stresses high grace to establish a hierarchy of values, a sense of proportion, and some ordering in life? Otherwise your faith will be a mess of literal and one level petty rules. You will be confused in your choices and unable to recognize the right hierarchy of values in scripture. You will have what the Apostle said in Romans 1O: 2...”a zeal for God but not according to knowledge. And what use is that?
God can be crucified again on a cross of religion. He can be used as a symbol by a religion with serious defects in it. Simplify and purify. Simplify by getting down to Christ first and love always. Then purify your faith by establishing a hierarchy of values with a sense of proportion in it. Without these your religion will be a junkyard of grace.
I urge you to simplify and purify. Measure things by grace, according to the measure of the fullness of grace in Christ. (Ephesians 4:13)
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.