On the Burning Edge of Grace

Show me an authentic faith, and I’ll show you someone with more questions than answers. I may be biased, but I think someone who can admit to knowing nothing for certain is the hallmark of someone who is on the right track. I’ve never understood the Christians whose mental landscape is solely black and white. The deeper I dive into scripture, the more I try to understand God, the more gray everything becomes.

I’m constantly asking myself if I’ve gone too far. Have I crossed the line? I’m keenly aware of the fact that I’m walking out my Faith on the burning edge of Grace… Hedonism on one side, Legalism on the other. With every issue I encounter, I have to examine my initial response to it, then wonder if I’ve veered to far in either direction. The balancing act is exhausting.  To some degree, I think this grayness contributes to the problem I wrote about last week… I have a hard time becoming angry at anything because I’m constantly aware of how possible it would be for me to go down a similar path. Some days I envy the Christians whose faith is made up of lines in the sand. A little black and white would be a welcome relief to the dizzying array of grays that have become my moral compass.

What’s that? Examples, you ask?

Remember when Christians said that slavery was totally cool? I think most of you would agree that we were mistaken. In ten years, will we be saying the same thing about homosexuality? I don’t know, but in the name of full disclosure, I’m leaning towards yeah, probably… and I’m pretty okay with that.

What about marijuana? It’s a plant that God specifically and deliberately created knowing full well the effect it would have on humans. (Our body is a temple? How is it that marijuana, a medicinal herb, is anathema, but cigarettes, man-made poison sticks are freely available?) On top of that, there’s a very long history of indigenous people using it as tool to communicate more clearly with God during certain ceremonies. Hell, there are some very convincing arguments for shamans discovering metaphysical and seemingly religious truth while tripping on natural psychotropics.

Every day we’re exposed to over three thousand advertisements all begging for our mind-space. Each one of those advertisements in some way promises to complete us. They tell us that they have what we need and that we are not complete. America is buying in. Attention span is literally in the single digits, we’re surrounded by noise nearly 24 hours a day, to the point where silence makes us uncomfortable (This is unfortunate, as God doesn’t usually make a habit of yelling to get our attention).

We have problems with eating food that is processed in ways nature never intended. We willingly sacrifice our health at the altar of convenience. What’s more, if we choose to do something good for our bodies and eat healthier, we find that we will pay a premium for doing so. For this reason obesity rates soar amongst the poor and low income. (Where is the church touting the “body is a temple” argument on this one?)

All major media we watch partake in is being delivered by one of only six conglomerates. Our news only comes from two or three of these. The news is not impartial. The news on television is not the truth. Big media news is a business first and foremost. You will never see a story on the news that will negatively impact their profits or their sponsors… even if it affects you directly.

Jesus has been co-opted by political parties that are so caught up in their own mad pursuits that they’ve left the American citizen on the sidelines. Newsflash: Jesus isn’t a republican or a democrat. If you’re going to live in his example you’re going to have to find him in both sides, or, go independent. (Good luck with that.)

And that’s just off the top of my head.

And yet…

I wouldn’t trade it. God has specifically equipped me to deal with the grays, to find my own path amidst the pre-fab trails that are being laid in his name. Yeah, it’d be a lot easier if I could show up at church, raise my hands, sing a song, shout “amen!” and feel good about it… But as things stand, I have to wonder if maybe God is telling me I’m needed elsewhere.

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8 responses to “On the Burning Edge of Grace

  1. My only question about this article– is the Grace line between legalism and hedonism really so thin that you have to walk it so precariously?

  2. I think when you place yourself in the arms of Jesus, He narrows the path in His own way based on what He knows will work for each individual. I do believes that it is always narrowing and I am ok with that most of the time…… At least when I remember Who it is that I am letting be my Guide. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us!

  3. Great question, Tabi! I believe the grace line IS a precarious one…albeit perhaps wider than a flaming tightrope.

    Rich Mullins (one of my favorite songwriters, singers and spiritual non-conformists) said, “I’d rather live on the edge of falling and rely on God’s grace, than to rely on my own ability or virtue to keep me from falling.” I SOOOO agree. In and of ourselves, we are not ABLE to continually walk that line…perhaps if we find ourselves exhausted, we are trying to do too much of it ourselves? Just a thought…

  4. Wow you had so much to say and I want to say so much back that i think it might make it’s own post if I did. My only thought i want to adress is that slavery in the bible is not the slavery that existed in early america. It wasn’t lifelong. In exodus 21 it lays down the ground work that he would only be a slave for 7 years and then all captives were to be set free with their families and without any financial penalties to be paid. This sounds strange to our ears in a culture that places all it’s emphasis on self rather than community or family but he could voluntarily at the end of the 7 years if he loved his master could go through a ceremony to be a family servant forever. The term is called a bondsman and Pual the Apotle uses it to describe himself as a bondsman of Jesus christ.

    Adressing American slavery when you say that we/christians thought that slavery was totally cool paints a much too one sided picture of christians, the bible and because of this nations history racisim and “the white man.” I’m not saying that people didn’t think that it was cool but just so you know that there were some of the “we” (I don’t know about you but I wasn’t there) that beleived it was totally uncool. The bloodiest american war ever fought was the civil war which was fought by and large over slavery and there were massive casualties from both ideological sides. As kansas’s statehood and slave status was being decided people from both sides moved into the state into the state to try and make it a free and slave state. The name “bloddy kansas” was given to it so don’t think that people didn’t live and die on both sides of the ideoligies and probably both did in the name of “Christ”

    In Charles Dickens the christmas carol scrooge is talking to one of the spirits and is upset at the things done in his name and the spirit says. “There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”

    • Holy cow, Adam! What a well articulated argument! Kudos, brother…and where is YOUR contribution to the Hunting for God blog lineup? (LOVE the Christmas Carol quote…A LOT!)

  5. I’ve been thinking about this a lot since I posted my question, and I realized where I got confused with this article. So I think I need to backtrack a ways before I can go forward. The question I should have given first– what is your definition of grace?

    • I guess in my head I’m defining Grace as the freedom or liberation we have to live life to the fullest in Christ. What I was trying to articulate is that on any given choice or topic, I have to wonder if I’m taking advantage of that freedom, or if my reluctance to do so is based on a legalistic paradigm that may or may not be justified.

  6. Pingback: I believe… « Hunting for God·

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