As a pastor I have always made it my goal to help others draw closer to God through faith in Christ. Theologically I would self identify as an evangelical Calvinist through most of my ministry but now am more Arminian. I am even coming closer to an Evangelical Universalist meaning that Christ is the only means of atonement and salvation but that God has His own ways of applying that salvation to folks who don’t quite get it. More on that later.
So in years gone by I have used the word ‘grace’ quite loosely, never quite sure of the depth of it’s meaning except that it has to do with the activity of God in our lives (believers or not).
If you have read the book THE SHACK, you will recall Mack, the dad who ends up talking with God about an unimaginable tragedy in his family’s life. If you haven’t read the book, stop here and go order it. Good. Now. At one point Mack reflects on his faith and that of his wife. He says, “My faith is wide and hers is deep.”.
I want to dig deeper in my relationship with God through His word. At the same time I would like to think that he inspires some of my thoughts and even my questioning about his love for His creation and me. This is my journey. I think of the words of the singing group U2: “I STILL HAVEN’T FOUND WHAT I’M LOOKING FOR”.
And I guess that’s good because searching is good. Anselm, an old wise philosopher and theologian around once wrote :”Theology is faith in search of understanding. ”At the age of 70 I sometimes feel like a kid in college again taking classes, this time from the Master on what the purpose of life really is. Yes, I know the great commandments: to love God and to love my neighbor as myself. But there’s a whole lot of meaning within those words. Depth.
Life is not just as simple as some folks make it out to be. Come to think of it, most honest to God people don’t really think that life is all that simple, nor is love and faith and figuring out the will of God or just wanting the will of God over and against our own wills.
Back around 1647 over in England a group of smart clergy and scholars got together. They wanted to write up articles of faith to define themselves, mostly over and against the Roman Catholics. They wrote a Westminster Confession of Faith and from it came the Westminster Catechism, a series of questions and answers about Christian faith mainly used in training people within the church. The first question is: ‘What is the chief purpose of humanity?’ And the answer is: ‘To glorify God and to enjoy him foreve. Ah, to enjoy God and to radiate his person would be wonderful indeed so let’s explore issues around faith, love, God, suffering, and a whole lot more that is on my mind. I call this little book, GRACE MATTERS. And it will become obvious why.
And I won’t be afraid to push the envelope concerning God’s love because I think that grace is a whole lot more than we could even imagine. It comforts us and challenges us. It challenges our collective ego as Christians to think we could ever put God in some kind of box or within a formula that excludes a whole lot of other folks. I am more interested in taking down walls rather than building one.