At its worst, Christianity, my religious tradition, focuses on judgement, exclusion and a rigid adherence to doctrine. The results are well documented and not surprising: The Spanish Inquisition, heretics burned at the stake, destruction of indigenous cultures, minority exclusion and persecution.
These are but a partial listing of what happens when judgement and an exclusionary theology are in the drivers seat. Of course, such rhetoric and practice says more about the bias' of the ones who hold such a theology than about Jesus, in whose name we Christians gather.
Annie Lamott, the humorist, author, theologian cuts to the heart of the matter: 'When God and Jesus hate the same people you do, then rest assured, you've created God (and Jesus) in your own image'.
What saves we Christians from our worst instincts, is Grace. Grace is the absence of judgment. It is the antithesis of exclusion. Grace is a reflection of the unifying theme of Jesus' life and teaching, that a Divine and Holy love is the foundation upon which we move, live and breathe.
Philip Yancey, the theologian put it this way: 'There's nothing we can do to make God love us more and there's nothing we can do to make God love us less'. The nature, the essence of the Creator is love. Love without limit. Love without boundary.
Do you believe this to be true?
This Grace is reflected in 1 John 4: 12: 'No one has ever seen God; if we love one another God lives in us, and God's love is made complete in us'. The Greek word for love (language of the New Testament) is 'Agape' which speaks of a love that is selfless, that builds up, that heals and unites'. It is this love, we are called and invited to share with others. With those who are like us and with those who are different. With those who think like us and with those who don't.
Imagine a world guided by Grace, filled with Gracious, Graceful, people.
Some years ago, my friend Sherill, told me of a dream she had. She was floating in a gently flowing river, drifting with the current. She felt safe as if in her mother's womb. The water buoyed, bathed, refreshed and comforted her.
When she awoke, she realized that she had been bathed by Grace. 'Grace', my friend said, 'is like that river, holding us up, guiding and restoring us.'
I'm a water person. My happiest moments are often on the water....paddling my kayak, swimming and simply floating on a lake, river or ocean. When I do, I often feel, that I am 'bathed by Grace'.
Whatever is going on in your life. Whatever struggles, worries, longings you carry. Whatever your belief system is or isn't.
This gift of Grace is yours. It is a gift of eternal love. A gift we can't earn and a gift we can't lose.
A gift that simply is.
Friends, float well. ~ Kent Harrop