Tuesday, April 8, 2014
We are created conscious of sin, but grow up wary of grace
Contemporary breakdown of world religions. Atheists are a tiny minority and those who stand for secular humanism, too small to show on the diagram at well under 0.1%
Sin and grace in Romans 3 here excerpted as Romans 3:6, 9-12, 17-18 in The Message
How else would things ever get straightened out if God didn’t do the straightening?… …Basically, all of us, whether insiders or outsiders, start out in identical conditions, which is to say that we all start out as sinners. Scripture leaves no doubt about it:“There’s nobody living right, not even one, nobody who knows the score, nobody alert for God. They’ve all taken the wrong turn; No one’s living right;I can’t find a single one…
…[They] don’t know the first thing about living with others. They never give God the time of day.”
(23-24) Since we’ve compiled this long and sorry record as sinners, both us and [those who went before], and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us. Out of sheer generosity He put us in right standing with Himself. A pure gift. He got us out of the mess we’re in and restored us to where He always wanted us to be. And He did it by means of Jesus Christ.
Relationship beats religion
OUT OF a world population approaching 7.2 billion, the great majority follow some sort of religion in some way. Those who have no religious leaning make up about 10-12% with professing atheists only 2%. Humanists come in as a world rarity at well under 0.1% – which interests me, because of the frequency of requests for humanist funerals that we hear about in this area.
Humanists apart, the vast majority of people do not see themselves as able to be ethical and moral in themselves – broadly the secular humanist philosophy – and do feel they have a moral compass without some kind of focus on a supreme being or religious framework.
The effort to live some kind of moral life (or at least to acknowledge that it is a goal to attain) is near-universal. We know we are imperfect. We know we need a solution. Religion is not all bad. It’s a lot easier to learn than our kind of faith. Religion provides rules, safeguards and above all, a merit approach where our effort to live good lives is given recognition. This is something that we can understand, and a process which we ourselves drive. It’s not the Christian life and walk with God, there’s no sense of empowering, it’s an effort – but many like it that way.
A living God and a challenging grace
As Paul writes above: “This is the long and sorry record… nobody living right… proving incapable of living glorious life.” The really challenging part of the Christian relationship with God, rather than religious rule set, is opting out of the rules and effort solution and trusting God who “did it for us… out of sheer generosity… by means of Jesus Christ.” And then allowing the Helper, the Holy Spirit, to help us from within.
This is such a good deal, it’s far too good to be true. That’s what so much of the world would say. There has to be a catch – and there is.
The catch is accepting that someone else has done it for us. Nothing to do with us. We are so locked into self-attainment, that it comes hard. Perhaps it is the deepest stronghold we have to tackle.