A Sense of Proportion
|My experience has been The
Apostle, Paul, is always sound on major issues of spirituality that are
universal application. Yet I wonder sometimes if his judgment on a few
of only culturally minor issues may
not be skewed by his time and society. If so, it is only natural for any
imperfect human, and only Christ was
I am aware I may make mistakes, you may make mistakes, we may make errors because we are, as the Apostle, living in a skewed and spiritually unbalanced time. If I question the Apostle, I question the Apostle. You may too. That is not wrong. It is not unanimity of intellect but unanimity of love that holds the congregations of God together. And people being where they are, at various levels in grace, will not always be at the same level of faith, or of the same ability to understand, or singing from the same page on hymns to grace.
Not being perfect, I am saved by faith through grace. I make errors. But I understand what I understand. So too are you free to be on the level of grace you are on and wonder about others at times, but not in a mean spirited way but an understanding way. (After all, we belong to no pretentious organization claiming a non-sense infallibility on faith and morals. No one on anything is infallible. We are protestant and bidden to glory in an ability to love while believing differently and being on different levels of grace. I glory in making known our ability to be different yet love each other. I think the true salvation may be nearer found in that belief and not in any bigotry of belief. Should not love be first, and belief next? Though sometimes it takes belief first to make love second. But that in time balances out.)
First let us take up the problem of people reading scripture without establishing a hierarchy of grace and values. (By the use of “hierarchy,” I do not mean to throw you into a briar patch of kings and nobles, bishops and popes, and other quaint but irrelevant nonsense.) But I mean a spiritual hierarchy of values that can be spotted through grace, confirmed by natural law, and tested by common sense. For example, let us look into the “Ten Commandments.”
Not to use God’s name in vain to curse, is a good rule that reinforces reverence, but it is not on the same level of grace and value as the commandment not to kill. (These are the third and sixth Commandments found in the Tenth Chapter of the Old Testament Book of Exodus.) It is clearly evident that if these rules are read under the influence of the Holy Spirit, thereby being read in grace, under the influence of Natural Law, or being read by Common Sense, the rules are not the same in social values or the same in measurements of grace. They are both good rules containing a measure but not the same measure of grace.
So scripture must be read and judged. When I read Paul, the Apostle, on grace, it is always worthwhile. When I read him on the etiquette of women wearing hats or coverings on their heads in church, that is is not a high level of grace. I would not make a major issue of a minor issue. If we do, we will be like the old Russian Church whose Synod debated how their vestments should look while the Russian Revolution of 1917 was beginning around them in the streets. Where, Oh, Lord, was their sense of proportion? It was lost.
I find minor things in scripture that I sometimes question to myself. However, I refuse to argue over little issues. If we argue over minor issues, and put major issues aside, where is our sense of proportion and common sense? Grace has a Sense of proportion. Grace has Common Sense.
One aspect of a Sense Of Proportion in grace is I try to reason about issues but I do not argue about issues. Did Jesus argue? Not that I can see. He taught and said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” (Matthew 11:15)
By that He meant he who has grace to hear, will hear. He who does not will not. Why butt your head against a lack of grace that is like a stone wall? You may, like General Jackson, stand like a Stonewall for grace, only do not butt your head against a lack of grace which is a stonewall. A person known for grace will have a sense of proportion, a sense of good values, and some sense of proportion, not a perfect sense of proportion but some sense is better than none. Why not perfect? Because everyman is a sinner. All have come short of the glory of God. (Romans 3:23)
True spiritual awareness should enable you to establish in your life a good sense of proportion about what is important, not so important and what is not even consequential. But people are given different measurements of grace. (Ephesians 4:7) Be patient and loving with those not up to or maybe above the stair of grace on which you stand, the rung of Jacob’s ladder from which you look down as you climb the ladder of grace to higher spiritual reality.
The best way to explain grace is a flawed comparison. The onset of a spiritual awareness is a reality that fulfils and guides materialism Iike a second puberty for adults. It is a puberty of higher grace. As children through the grace of nature realize the awareness of a different world, so immature and non-spiritual adults awaken to the spiritual world. This knowledge makes them adult. It gives them, as the first onset of puberty does children, a different sense of values, an awareness of a different world that they did not see and could not see.
William Wilburforce, who was responsible for the abolition of the slave trade in English controlled areas, when speaking of his awakening to the spiritual world, his conversion, that it was like awakening from a delirium. It was a delirium of materialism and social vanity. His sense of proportion was changed. His sense of values changed from having seen the spiritual world. He by grace began a work of grace.
So I tell you clearly that in this world we are working with the children of materialism. They have had their physical awareness changed by their first puberty, by which they came further along into partial adulthood, but they have not had the necessary second puberty that completes their mature adulthood.
Their awareness was raised by their first puberty, but they have not come through the adulthood of an awakening of their spiritual awareness through the second puberty. The second puberty is a spiritual awakening so that their vision of the world is made complete.
Now the desire for this second puberty is built in to people. People naturally desire to believe in God but are held back by their frustrating in themselves that grace in nature and from God. They are then spiritually stunted and made materialistic and grotesque by frustrating in themselves their natural grace to believe. It written in Galatians 2:21, “do not frustrate the grace of God.”
The material includes the spiritual. The world is a composite. People are rendered whole by seeing the material world fulfilled by the spiritual world. Their lives and their world views are changed. They are made whole by belief in God. What begins by nature ends by grace.
Fellow believers in God, followers of the Lord, realize what we work with. We work with spiritually stunted people who have frustrated the natural grace given them to believe. They are then crippled, spiritually grotesque, materialistic dwarves, those who do not perceive the wholeness of the world, being blinded to spiritual things, having never fully grown up regardless of their age. They are not people with a full grace vision, but a half grace vision or a low grace outlook.
There is no sense in arguing with them. What they are not aware of, they are not aware of. They are not stubborn. They are not being mean, although they may be mean naturally, not being redeemed by grace nor conscious of any grace in the world. Do as Jesus did! He preached the Gospel to those who had ears to ear and were prepared by grace to hear. He performed miracles. He evangelized. He taught, He did right by the non-graced. After that He moved on to be about His Father’s business. (I always think the world might be converted in the time wasted on arguments.)
Do not beat your head against a wall. Do not argue with the graceless. Pray for them. Do not look down on them. Where they are in grace is where they are in grace. Who are you to judge God or them? What they have not experienced, that they cannot be. You should smile and nod your head over those who have not experienced the first puberty. You should smile and be patient with those who have not come to the second puberty that is spiritual awakening and a full grace picture of things. Truly, they have not experienced grace so their sense of proportion is not changed by experiencing grace.
We live in a decadent society with materialists and agnostics who have only experienced the material world. Do not let it sour you or embitter you. But move as an adult who has maturity of vision among those who are immature, erratic and irresponsible. You may start self-pitying and say, “Oh, there are so,“ few of us!” Tell it to Jesus. He started with twelve and one of them a traitor. Those who profess Him are now in the billions. More and more are experiencing grace every day. Do not sell Christ short. Grace is active and working every day.
Dr. James MacLeod may be contacted through the Neill Macaulay Foundation.