Danny Sims has been giving quotes from one of my favorite authors this week: C. S. Lewis. Today he is quoting from Phillip Yancy’s book What’s So Amazing About Grace on Lewis’ opinion that God’s grace is what makes Christianity unique:
The notion of God’s love coming to us free of charge, no strings attached, seems to go against every instinct of humanity. The Buddhist eight-fold path, the Hindu doctrine of Karma, the Jewish covenant, and Muslim code of law—each of these offers a way to earn approval. Only Christianity dares to make God’s love unconditional.
Get this: we don’t have to do anything! Nothing, nada, zilch. And nothing can separate us from that love: NOTHING! Why is that so hard to believe? Because we are a society of achievement, everything we do is results and goal oriented. We all find it difficult to believe that God will give us His love for nothing in return. He just wants us to love Him back but that’s not a requirement for Him giving us His love. If we could only free our minds from the chains and bondage of “doing” what an abundant life we could be living. To be able to experience the freedom of just living in His love, allowing His grace to grow daily in us until in the end we finally become like Him, this is the gospel – the Good News.
What’s so amazing about grace? It’s free.
I’ve taken a cue from Amber, and I’m just pointing out some new links (and some old ones):
- A couple of my friends have started blogging. Smitty is Crockpot Faith and Shelly is Evidence of Faith. Stop by and say hello.
- I’ve also added a new page: Blood:Water Mission which was started by Jars of Clay. As they say: “Blood:Water Mission exists to promote clean blood and clean water efforts in Africa, tangibly reducing the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic while addressing the underlying issues of poverty, injustice and oppression.” HT:Amber
- Of course there is still WaterAid, WorldVision, and the ONE Campaign to make poverty history.
I’ve tried several times to respond to your blog post about godliness, but the words never seem to come, never seem to be quite what I wanted to say. So instead of filling up your blog with my opinions I’m posting my thoughts here, knowing you read my blog and knowing I can say whatever I want here.
You say I opened a can of worms Sunday night at our Bible study because I wanted to know what this “eclectic group of young adults” thought about godliness. I’m sorry, that wasn’t my intention. My intentions were to just get people thinking about godliness and how it should impact our lives. And you are right, everyone seem to be looking for a definition that was measurable. But that is understandable – everything we do in life seems to have some measurable quality to it, why not in the spiritual realm? But I think we get off on the measure because we use others as our standard, and we measure others by our standards. But the true measure should be Jesus Christ. How do I stack up against Him? Well of course, I stink. But He is still my standard. Our measure should be: “How am I improving compared to how I was yesterday, or even an hour ago?” When I start comparing myself to other believers I can quickly become defeated and frustrated. It’s like running. When I compare my 15 minute mile to those who can run a 5 or 6 minute mile I could get really frustrated with running. But when I realize what I can do now (based on my weight and level of fitness) I’m ok with my 15 minute mile. But how excited I am when I run a 14 ½ minute mile; and then a 14 minute mile. I probably will never run a 5 or 6 minute mile, but I’m ok with that. I know what I’m capable of at the moment and I’m at peace with that. Not satisfied, so I push myself a little harder, but at peace with where I am at the moment.
You also said that you thought our sinful nature makes being godly “unattainable.” I must disagree with you. I think our sin nature keeps us from being perfect, but it doesn’t keep us from being godly. I think we are godly people just because our hope is in the Living God, who is alive in us because of what Jesus did. I think we often make perfection and godliness synonymous, and that is a mistake. Godliness is an attitude, a frame of mind, a way of looking at God, the world, and those we come into contact with. Godliness is our way of representing God to the world, and I think godly people don’t even know they are godly. Some days we are godlier than other days. But we should be seeking and striving to be, as Paul said in the scripture we looked at, an “example of godliness in our speech, conduct, faith, love and purity.” Most days I fail in at least one of those areas if not all of them. But I keeping pressing on, knowing “God has given me everything I need for life and godliness.” I’m not sure I could handle perfection, but I know I can handle godliness. I like your question: “Are Godly people just normal folks who occasionally screw up as they search for truth?” Yes. I see godliness in a lot of people, mostly doing small things they think aren’t all that godly. I see the spark of godliness in all of us, whether we recognize it or not. I see godliness in you T, even in the midst of your “rebellion and cynicism.” Don’t quit trying T; the payoff will be worth it.
Addendum: Becky sent me this quote in an email. It’s Oswald Chambers for Sept. 19th.
The expression of Christian character is not good doing, but God likeness. If the Spirit of God has transformed you within, you will exhibit Divine characteristics in your life, not good human characteristics. God’s life in us expresses itself as God’s life, not as human life trying to be godly. The secret of a Christian is that the supernatural is made natural in him by the grace of God, and the experience of this works out in the practical details of life, not in times of communion with God.
A blog friend of mine sent me a link to some articles about women and their role in the Church, or at least in Christianity, in response to my post Is It Possible?. Haven’t read through everything, but there was one article, written by Wendy Virgo, that had some interesting things to say. Here’s a quote:
So today, as we look at the blue print early church, we must resist the urge to stereotype. It is sad when people conclude that there is not much for a woman to do, unless she marries a leader, in which case she is run off her feet and has no life of her own at all!
Women were not commended for ‘position’ but for character and gifting as they walked in the Spirit through daily life. Yes, Paul commends them for being ‘helpers’ but this is so non-specific that it could mean anything from evangelising to washing Paul’s socks, from casting out demons to making pots of money by selling purple dye. The bottom line was that whatever they did they did it in such a way as to bring honour to the Lord.
The issue was not about ‘women’s ministry’ or ‘rights’ but about ‘how does my life help in the mission to make Jesus known?’ Thus, when Lydia was saved, Paul did not tell her to give up her career and sell her house. Rather, her house became a great place in which the fledgling church could meet.
The line that talks about the issue being about ‘how does my life help in the mission to make Jesus known’ applies to all of us, male or female. It’s not about ‘what we do’ but, as BruceD said over at YBMT, it’s about ‘who we are.’ Our relationship with Christ, and through Him, God, shapes what we do and how we do it. My theology, or doctrines, or the things I say I believe, needs to be shaped by my intimate relationship with Jesus the Christ, not my surface relationship with my pastor or some TV evangelist or what some denomination tells me. My beliefs need to come from what Jesus said, and ultimately, how He transforms me into His image.
So, my question du jour is, “How is my life helping in the mission to make Jesus known?” And what am I making known about Him? I guess that would be questions du jour.
This just goes to show you, we men can’t help ourselves. A new study says, “Men may have developed a psychology that makes them particularly able to engage in wars.”
“Men are more likely to support a country going to war. Men are more likely sign up for the military and men are more likely to lead groups in more autocratic, militaristic ways than women.”
If you are interested, read the article here.
Have a great weekend.