Mr. Standfast

"Nothing taken for granted; everything received with gratitude; everything passed on with grace." G. K. Chesterton

October 18, 2003

I wrote yesterday about the importance of forgivenesss. God's forgiveness of us, our acceptance of that forgiveness. What do I mean by acceptance?

Well, I think that there are plenty of Christians out there who remain locked into patterns of sin (and therefore, whether they admit it or not, deep shame) because they have not really trusted that through Jesus and the cross God has removed their condemnation. Entirely.

I am suggesting that when we really do accept the reality of God's forgiveness we can begin to really speak of "the grace in which we stand." I am suggesting that we have many stunted Christians for whom growth in the Lord seems a strange concept. They may have a rudimentary kind of faith, they may love Jesus and like to hear that he died for them, but they haven't fully imbibed this reality and thereby experienced its drastic impact on their lives. They don't realize growth and progress in their walk because they continue to doubt its possibility. That's for super-Christians, they suppose. When they read Romans, their minds drift as they scan chapter 6 with its call for holiness, chapter 8 with its obligation to the Spirit rather than to the flesh, but endless affirm chapter 7 (out of context), because there Paul describes the one aspect of the Christian life that they can truly relate to.

[By the way, I should say here that I don't mean to seem condescending, or like I'm some sort of super-Christian harshly judging the inferior "stunted" Christians. In a real sense we are all stunted Christians to one degree or another, and I have spent years laboring under that burden of half-knowledge which accepts, I am a sinner, but not, I am a saint, set apart by God for holiness. And I am only just beginning to see how splendid are God's promises for us here and now, as we live our lives from day to day. The Father is for us, and that should be an effectively transformative reality.]

And yet there is of course something deeply habituating about sin. The shame of sin that drove Adam and Eve into the shrubbery has worn its deep grooves in the human psyche, and so it is difficult to consistently affirm and believe that Jesus really did take away the condemnation. That is, to really trust it. To walk in it, unburdened, disentangled. And this is freedom indeed. "Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom." (2Cor 3:17)

Brennan Manning said something about this (you can find the interview in the articles list at right):

I believe that the real difference in the American church is not between conservatives and liberals, fundamentalists and charismatics, nor between Republicans and Democrats. The real difference is between the aware and the unaware. When somebody is aware of that love, the same love that the Father has for Jesus, that person is just spontaneously grateful. Cries of thankfulness become the dominant characteristic of the interior life, and the byproduct of gratitude is joy. We're not joyful and then become grateful, we're grateful and that makes us joyful.


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