Before I continue, let me clear something up: I am not a religion-hater. This article is not written, because I hate the religion I was baptized to, and this is not to spite the many others I hold with great respect. What this is all about, aside from sharing the good news of pure grace – is about me letting go. I am no longer bound to any religion, I am simply bound by faith through grace.
When I said that many will vomit what I wrote in the first part of this article, I am recalling what our ministry leaders experienced. They used to vomit it and when they finally believed it and they preached it, they would be told they are going crazy. Why is it crazy? Continue reading and see why.
Image credit: Message by Quinn Dombrowski
What are (some of) The Radical Messages of Grace?
1. You don’t have to keep apologizing. In fact, you do not need to apologize anymore. The very idea that where sin abounds, grace abounds even more – that. Is. Crazy. What’s even crazier is that our past, present, and note, future sins are forgiven. Already. That. Is. Crazy. Radical! As a Roman Catholic, we are taught that the way to be absolved of our sins is – not only, note – through apology, but this has, to begin with guilt. If it is a true desire to be forgiven, you have to involve a priest that does the untimely necessary act of providing you or advising means of penance.
There is a case in which you can feel guilt for your sins and not actually go to confession and still be forgiven (this is called perfect contrition), but to receive forgiveness this way, you must have had as a desire to actually go to confession, but you couldn’t for some reason.
I am not a lazy person, more so a lazy believer. I am diligent. I pray small prayers daily even back then. But then there is that- it seems that I am not doing enough. What’s worse, I am so focused that I am a sinner and that I should not be sinning. That is the problem, isn’t it? As in anything, the more we think about it – or try avoiding to think about it, the bigger the idea gets.
Confession is not an alien idea in the way of grace. In fact, it is the very core of knowing we are not capable of living righteously on our own. But the act of confession will not save us, we are already saved. We need not work on something that is already done. In a “graceful” life, our confession is about realizing that,
One of the most tempting fallacies for us—and for every human being in this fallen world—is to believe that our greatest problems exist outside us rather than inside us…
The key to living a life in grace is knowing that sin comes from within, not from without. Acknowledge that without condemnation, but gratitude that you are saved – and with gratitude, we pay it forward by not doing it again.
Image credit: Cover Up by dgrosso23
2. Grace is for anyone, everyone. “So you mean, if I am not a Christian, it is also for me?” “Yes, why not?” We are all very much like the prodigal son in the parable, there is already a huge party being thrown for us every day.
One of the beautiful things about grace is that it’s available to anyone (Romans 1:16). During His earthly ministry, Jesus came to an adulterous woman, a despised tax collector who routinely cheated people, and a murderer.
So what is the difference? Any religion, belief system – even non-belief is easily for everyone. Yes, it’s like a “Free Lemonade” stand, but not everyone is going to stop and drink from it. Such is the reality of life. Take the lemonade, for example, some will eventually try it – but not everyone is guaranteed to like it. The same is true with grace. So, if it is your first time to hear about grace, it is important not to act on your first inference on it. You have to truly dig deeper because as it is radical, it is prone to many misinterpretations.
On Patheos.com, the blogger who is a persistent atheist, shares three reasons why he or she hates God’s grace. Specifically God’s grace. One of the three reasons is that the Christian concept of God’s grace encourages psychopathic tendencies in those who believe in it.
to be grateful for the concept of grace you have to think that everyone who doesn’t have it is going to hell, and be OK with that. No matter what the person does, they deserve hell and will get it if they don’t follow arbitrary rules God supposedly set up, and/or don’t believe a fairly fantastical story that has very little evidence backing it up. This mentality dehumanizes the person who is not a Christian.
I cannot blame the writer. If we subject ourselves to human understanding, then that is where grace will fall. But grace is extremely divine, our human wisdom will require an open mind and a plethora of encounters to grasp it halfway. It is so huge. In fact, it is universal.
Karl Rahner, a German Jesuit priest and theologian, considered one of the most influential Catholic theologians, is twentieth century’s pre-eminent theologian of grace. His theology on grace is interesting. According to his study, members of non-Christian religions who have encountered divine grace are potential “anonymous Christians”. His theology is centered on the positive side of grace. The kind of good news we want to hear.
Image credit: “Agape by Marcelino Rapayla, Jr.
3. God is not angry at us. If God is not angry at us, why is the bible full of condemnation? Doesn’t grace follow scripture?
Condemnation is a very powerful word. It is synonymous to damnation, judgment, punishment, destruction, and verdict. Before Jesus, such was the heavy assessment upon the people. They were judged based on the Ten Commandments. Did you know this edict is part of what was called – note, I say “was” – the Old Covenant? Not only that, the Old Covenant was otherwise known as the ‘ministry of death” or the “ministry of condemnation“. Wow! I just realized how lucky we are no longer in the Old Testament.
But we continue to live as if we are. The worse part of it all? We condemn others with us. Since we are so focused on “I am doing this, so God will condemn me”, when we find someone whose sins apparently seem bigger than ours, we go on asking “how come he or she is living abundantly?”. “He or she should be punished” because we feel punished. This is the kind of mentality that burdens Christians even more. I am not saying every lawful Christian is like this, but I have seen how obsessed we are with correcting ourselves because it is what the law requires us to do. It is a tendency.
In psychology, this is one of the human defense mechanisms called projection. According to the theories of Sigmund Freud,
…psychological projection is a psychological defense mechanism whereby one “projects” one’s own undesirable thoughts, motivations, desires, feelings, and so on onto someone else…The principle of projection is well-established in psychology.
It is human nature. But then again, we cannot relegate grace to human nature. So what do we do? I am sure by now, you are very uncomfortable, confused and many other feelings I’ve felt before. Just stay faithful and let grace flow from you and through you that goodness may abound.
Works of Grace
Let us not misconstrue “work” as purely ritualistic acts to attain salvation. Work is many things. For Pentecostal and Charismatic churches, they have “The Three Works of Grace“. But that’s not the kind of work we are talking about. The three works of grace are, according to Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, faith, hope, and love.
If you ask me…
Those are very easy works, because we have done them before. True that faith may falter, hope may be lost, and love may be reciprocated with pain at times. But when you let grace flow, no amount of discouragement or external condemnation will faze you. In the third part of this article, I will conclude this three-part saga of grace with my own discoveries and how radical grace has saved a wretch like me.