RECLAIMING GOD

( a continuation of “GOD IS...)

God has never been, at any time for any reason, a capricious God of death, war, destruction, murder, violence, oppression, retribution, vengeance, hate, or conditional acceptance.

God has always been a consistent God of life, peace, creation, healing, reconciliation, liberation, resurrection, transformation, love, and grace.

God has always been the same. God does not change. What is changing is our expanding view of God and the increasing wisdom of our understanding of God and the Godly life we are called to live. From Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21, through the entire course of the Biblical scripture, God is calling us from within the scripture to grow and to continually move forward and to mature beyond the view and wisdom found in the scripture. From mere existence through tribal justice through the detailed code of the Law of Moses through the revelation by Jesus of the dual foundation and purpose and expectation of the Law through the invitation to live a new life of resurrection and transformation with God as the only ruler of our new life. God is continuously calling us to grow and to move forward and to mature beyond our usual human existence to be the Kingdom of God. Without the requirement of death as a precedent, we are constantly invited to be resurrected for and transformed into the Kingdom of God for our life and especially the lives of others. We are called to live here and now a life of resurrection and transformation as the Kingdom of God -  this is the Good News.

The “will of God” – what God wants for us – has always been for us to: *  Be Free and Independent *  Think *  Be Curious *  Be Intelligent and Wise *  Value Knowledge over Ignorance and Compassion over Knowledge *  Be Creative *  Grow and Mature *  Live Long Healthy Satisfying Lives *  Live Non-Violently Without Vengeance *  Be Hospitable *  Be Generous *  Do No Harm *  Heal and Reconcile and Rehabilitate *  Be Good Stewards of all Resources *  Live Here as One Family *  Live in Loving Relationship with God *  Be Transformed through Resurrection *  Be the Kingdom of God

God is love and grace. These are the two most important characteristics of God that define who God is and who God always has been and who God always will be. God is timeless. More precisely, God is beyond time, beyond the constraints and confines and control and currents of time. God is not bound by the events or expectations or dimensions or constructs of this universe. In the same way that God is beyond time, God exceeds the bounds and bonds of this universe while being constantly present and immediately accessible in the universe. Even so, God has bounds. God is bound by love and grace; - God is bound by the conditions imposed by the act of creation by a God of love and grace; - and God is bound by the conditions imposed by a God of love and grace being in relationship with creation.

But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace would no longer be grace. (NRSV Romans 11:6)

Yet we know that a person is justified not by the works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ. And we have come to believe in Christ Jesus, so that we might be justified by faith in Christ, and not by doing the works of the law, because no one will be justified by the works of the law. (NRSV Galatians 2:16)

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God – not the result of works, so that no one may boast. (NRSV Ephesians 2:8-9)

Just because I work incredible good out of unspeakable tragedies doesn’t mean I orchestrate the tragedies.  Don’t ever assume that my using something means I caused it or that I needed it to accomplish my purposes.  That will only lead you to false notions about me.  Grace doesn’t depend on suffering to exist, but where there is suffering you will find grace in many facets and colors. (“The Shack”, William P. Young, pp. 187-188)

Grace is not awarded for the satisfactory completion of a spiritual check list - and grace is not earned for works or acts - and grace is not part of a quid pro quo arrangement or relationship - and grace is not a stipulation of a contract or covenant - and grace is not right thinking or thinking right or thinking good thoughts or having the right beliefs - and grace is not about rewards and punishments - and grace is not about later. Grace is not about heaven or a post-mortal existence or guaranteeing a future occurrence because grace is not about having an after-life insurance policy or hedging our spiritual bets. We live in, we exist in and have always existed in (not “by”, not “because”, not “alongside”, not "under") in the grace of God. Grace is now - constantly present and immediately accessible. Grace is always freely available and freely supplied and supplied freely unconditionally and abundantly without exceptions and without restrictions and without qualifications. Grace and conditions are mutually exclusive, even oppositional. A faith full of grace has no conditions - meaning no qualifications and no requirements and, consequently, no exclusions and no differentiation. A faith with any condition or any qualification or any requirement or any exclusion or any differentiation has no grace. God requires nothing of us – this is grace.

God accepts whatever we bring to the God/person relationship – our physical and spiritual condition, personality, connection to reality, our participation in relationships, talents, inabilities, cognition, knowledge, ignorance, life journey, spiritual journey, walk about, wandering, seeking, questioning, questing, acceptance of God, rejection of God – and our emotional and mental status: hate/love, anger/peace, sadness/happiness, hurt/health, feeling lost and abandoned/feeling found and included, agitation/serenity, apathy/passion, confusion/clarity, fractures/wholeness – all of this, all of whoever we are and have ever been and every action committed or ever contemplated and every thought we ever explored or entertained or that flitted through our mind – all of this, we bring to the God/person relationship and God accepts the totality of who we are and every component that comprises who we are - as a gift. The constant inviting presence of God and this unconditional acceptance of us in our entirety as a gift – this is love.

Because of the way God is defined and bound by love and grace, God has never required and never recognized and never accepted any sacrifice by anyone for anything. The love and grace of God requires neither a sacrificial tortuous execution nor a death-defying miracle to prove or perversely demonstrate its existence and worth and validity - God is not an abusive parent. Through the constant presence of God, we are constantly invited by God to have an intimate loving relationship with God. We have a constant opportunity with God to accept and acknowledge the love and grace of God and to live a life imbued with and guided by the love and grace of God. Each of us has something to offer to God and God has only good – unrestrained love and unconditional grace – to constantly offer to each of us.

by Doug Sloan

Doug is a member of Central Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Terre Haute, Indiana where he has served as an Elder and Treasurer and enjoys his continuing membership in the choir. He graduated in 2009 with a M.Ed. in Curriculum and Instruction from Indiana State University and a BS in Management Information Systems from Ball State University in 1997. Since August 2005, he has been a member of the CIS Adjunct Faculty at the Terre Haute campus of Ivy Tech Community College of Indiana. He has been published in DisciplesWorld and Encounter: Education for Meaning and Social Justice. Doug is married to Carol, a First Grade teacher, and is the father of two sons.
previous posts by Doug Sloan:
RECLAIMING CHURCH
GOD IS...