for grace, grace, grace.

 

I can only imagine that there are thousands of people speaking up all over the country and the internet about the executive orders signed this past week. Living with no television and no social media leaves me in a place where I don’t have the opportunity to see what is being said, and by whom. I did receive a text from my sister in law, Annie, sharing something she posted on Facebook this weekend:

“American Lives are not worth more than Syrian lives. Christian lives are not worth more than Muslim lives. And I say this as an American Christian. Beyond devastated at the events of the last 24 hours, and committed to calling bullshit for as long as it takes”

I thanked her and told her this needs to be shared, that ours is a faith in a God who loves and welcomes to an unfathomable degree. For our dear friends who don’t call themselves Christians, some who’ve been burned by the church, let me say this on behalf of myself and my family : First, we are so sorry and sad over the damage done and harm inflicted by the church throughout history and even this week. We hope and pray your harmful experiences with the Christian community are not pervasive, that you don’t feel barred from experiencing the love of God simply because of a few vocal communities are preaching only judgment. And we hope you know we love and care for you and respect you.

Professing ourselves as Christians does not mean that our family approves of the actions leaders of our country have taken this week. Our family is not set on a fearful agenda against anyone. No one is overlooked or too far from the grip of God’s love and grace because we’re not. I have the capacity in my human bones for every type of weakness, wrong, or evil that could ever exist, yet I’ve been rescued by a God who has pursued his creation in love. This means we are FOR the wild love of God, who is not scared away by a person from any religion, people group, criminal record, sexual orientation, or anyone who looks, lives, or votes differently than we do.

I look at the life of Jesus and I see him as God in the flesh, living a human life perfectly. So I can only deduce that what I see him doing is what I should be doing, too. I see Jesus drawing close to and speaking out for the poor, the sick, the hungry, the outcasts, the marginalized, the diseased, those whom the religious of the day wouldn’t even touch, speak to, or look upon. I see him eating with the notorious ones, the deviants, the disabled, giving dignity to those who have been written off by the religious elite as dangerous, hell bound sinners. I see him consistently extend love, grace, and an open invitation for these people to know him, to eat with him, to spend their lives with him.

I also see Jesus in the gospels expressing anger and discouragement over the religious leaders of the day. I see his intolerance for religious pride and a faith that does not lead with grace and service to those who live in the dark valleys of doubt and sickness. I see him chastise, name call, and publicly shame the religious contingent, the Pharisees. I see him call them out on their sins while he seeks to defend the ones they are harshly accusing and threatening.

From what I know about Jesus, I believe he is heartbroken over the events of the past week. 

I believe he is devastated that his name would be invoked while the very people he sought out in his life are pushed aside, many turned away to die. 

I believe he is with those who feel alone and without hope. That he longs to comfort them as they are turned away from the place they were seeking solace, the place they were to reunite with family or start a new life. 

I believe he is angry and turning over tables again that the place that the leaders of a country claiming to be a Christian nation would turn away hurting and needy people of other faiths who are in danger, while promising “Christians” will be made exceptions for.

I believe he hurts for every soul who has been cast out or pushed down by this administration, and he longs to be their comfort.

I believe he sits and weeps with the young girl who has been raped and is now performing her own back alley abortion, about to lose the life of her baby and her own, out of fear, shame, and desperation. He loves the unborn and the born without exception.

I believe he is pro-all-life.

If Jesus doesn’t care and seek out those who are the lost and last and least and left out, then it must not be the Jesus I know, the Jesus laid out clearly in the gospels. In the gospels, we see a Jesus who leads with service and empathy, submitting a kind Father who leads with service and empathy. He considers us, he knows we are dust. He knows our weakness and inability to save ourselves. And in his inexplicable love, he opens up the universe wide, intervenes into our history and takes our dirt upon himself, being buried in it. I believe the true Christian life is one of clinging to this and always remembering we are being invited in every day by unmerited love, based on our need for grace, and grace alone.

This is a small summary of what my family and I believe, but we will not use that belief to push aside anyone who believes differently. I am not God, I’m human. Which means I’m not the authority and I’m not infallible. I recognize my beliefs are based on my experiences, my journey, my heart’s leadings, my perspective. Even in this, it must all come back to compassion and grace, grace, grace.

As Martin Luther – true originator of Evangelical Christianity – said:

“If you are a preacher of grace, then preach a true and not a fictitious grace; if grace is true, you must bear a true and not a fictitious sin. God does not save people who are only fictitious sinners. Be a sinner and sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly, for he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here [in this world] we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness, but, as Peter says, we look for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. It is enough that by the riches of God’s glory we have come to know the Lamb that takes away the sin of the world. No sin will separate us from the Lamb, even though we commit fornication and murder a thousand times a day. Do you think that the purchase price that was paid for the redemption of our sins by so great a Lamb is too small? Pray boldly – you too are a mighty sinner.”

Or, as Jeremy reminded me, modern day poet Kanye, once said,

To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers
(Jesus walks for them)
To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here, hell yeah
(Jesus walks for them)

To my/our friends who profess Christian faith and are sharing publicly, we encourage you to offer your friends and followers the gracious invitation to be loved by a God who isn’t afraid of them, who doesn’t close his doors to them, who stopped at nothing to show them this. I hope the grace we’ve received in Christ allows us to see our own sin for what it is, and extend that grace to others in compassion and fearlessness. This week’s events, as heartbreaking as they were, can be seen as a call to fight for the Christianity displayed by Christ himself, one honoring human dignity, value, and worth. Filled with love, and grace upon grace.

with love,

ash (and Jeremy, too)

 

references:

Mark 10:46

James 1:27

Matthew 11:25-26

Matthew 11:28-29

Matthew 12:9-14

Matthew 12:34

Matthew 23:33

Matthew 7:1-5

Matthew 5:42

Mark 11:15-18

Mark 10: 13-16

John 8:1-11

Philippians 2:5-8

Micah 7:19

Psalm 103:12

2 Corinthians 5:19-21

Micah 6:8

1 John 2:1-1

Titus 3:5

Romans 7:23

Romans 3:9

Matthew 5:27-28

Matthew 5:22

Mark 8:11-13

Mark 7:5-8

Mark 1:40-43

Luke 7:36-50

Luke 23:39-43

Psalm 103:14

Ephesians 2:8-9

Galatians 2:16

Romans 5:1-2

John 15:5

Romans 3:21-28

Isaiah 64:6

Luke 19:1-10

Luke 18:35-43

Luke 9:46-48

Luke 8:43-56

Psalm 139

John Newton, “Advantages From Remaining Sin,” Select letters of John Newton (repr. Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2011), 151.

quote: Letter to Melanchthon, I August 1521, in Gottfried Krodel, trans., Luther’s Works, vol. 48 (Philadelphia: Fortress 1963

Jesus Walks, Kanye West

The Jesus Storybook Bible, by SallyLloyd-Jones

 

show hide 2 comments

ash parsons Christina, thanks for sharing so honestly in response.. I totally hear you on the difficulty of knowing how to identify in the current political climate with all that’s going on. thank you for your kindness, and yes, let’s stand for unbounded grace and radical love together! xo ashJanuary 30, 2017 – 9:24 am

Christina W. Yes, yes, yes to all of this! Annie texted me her Facebook post as well (since I’m also off FB now) and I’m so happy to see fellow Christ-followers taking a stand against these terrible actions by our leaders. I’ll admit I’ve been so disillusioned by Christianity and questioning my faith and place in this world since the election … it just feels like I can’t call myself a Christian with so many awful things being said and done by them. But its been like that since the early days of Christ, there have always been these Pharisees. Anyway, thank you for standing for unbounded grace and radical love.January 30, 2017 – 6:46 am

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