Monday, November 19, 2012

On My Father's Shoulders

I grew up saturated in the belief that the ultimate source of the universe is actively loving and that our highest notions of love reflect that ultimate source*. That is to say that God really loves us perfectly and his love is recognizable to us through our experience of it's reflection. Even more simply: God loves us completely in a way that makes sense to us.

My father did not grow up in this. Rather, he has had to fight for it. This fight has been most clear in his longstanding and often controversial teaching on the grace of God, speaking in defense of it for thousands of hours, all his writings, outworkings of defending the grace of God. The grace of God needs defending because it is and has been for much of history under attack.

To be more accurate, the grace of God does not need defense. It is quite secure in itself. Rather people are in need of being released from bondage to false notions of God that see him as vindictive, judgmental, irritable, distant, etc.

My father has worked at this for most of his life, pulling and pulling  because he needed the truth he knew to train his own heart. He has needed release from the same bondage he fought for for others. This understanding of God is something he has defended. This understanding of God is where I start. I grew up in this environment, starting with a radical notion of the grace of God, early saturation deeply setting the way I think and feel about the world and my life and my place in both. This deeply rooted understanding that reality has such a bright truth at its core grounds freedom and joy at the foundation of my life and work, but at the same time, not having to work for it, impedes my ability to articulate that very grace to people who do not yet truly know it.

The grace of God is not an "issue" for me. That God really loves us and this world he has created is where I start. The difficulty that arises from this is if other people do not start from the this same place, especially on such a fundamentally vital point, what I say can be very horribly misunderstood. Especially since I talk a lot about our responsibilities and the work we have to do in the world. One could very easily think that I am teaching that we in some way earn, by these works, our position with God. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Nothing I say has anything to do with securing a better position with God. Everything I say is predicated on the foundation that we are all already completely secure in the love and acceptance of God.

We are all fully loved and accepted by God, right now exactly as we are. That is bombproof. That is true whether we feel like it or not. That is just as true for the person across the street and across the ocean as it is for you and me. Jesus has already taken up all of humanity into the embrace of the Trinity. The Spirit is always already present in every place and person, ready to be honored and embraced. The Father has, from the very beginning, chosen each and all of us to be adopted as his true children.

That is my foundation. There is nothing I need to do to "get right with God." There are no hoops I need to jump through, no manual I need to read, no cross I need to nail myself to. All is grace. It is by  the grace of God that I do right and by the grace of God that I sin. My very existence is a gift. I have nothing and yet by the adoption of the Most High everything is mine.

Given the radical depth and power of the grace of God and his complete acceptance of us all the only thing that is left to us is to get down to work. There is nothing for us to earn so we might as well work at life and that more fully. That is where I go. Given the total love and acceptance of our Father lets get to work. We have been given a creation to complete.

I also talk about my father here.

*For a good primer on what I grew up with see: The Gospel Uncensored

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