Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Are you living in grace or in slavery to your church?

 Does Grace mean we don't have to or shouldn't want to go to church?

It depends on the church. In Galatians Paul wants us to understand that gathering together as believers is meant to enable us to celebrate our freedom and mature in our faith and personality. Is that what's happening in your church?

However, as Mark D. Baker points out in his book, Freedom From Religiosity and Judgmentalism, we tend to take the rules and practices of following Jesus and turn them into bonded group religion, with definite standards for who's in and who's out (pg. 49). It's not just about creating and following rules, it's that "spiritual forces enslave us through turning rules and laws into ways of seeking status with God and humans and into judging and excluding others" (pg. 49). 

God's gift of grace is for every person who believes - even before they have fully understood or responded to or been transformed from all forms of sin. We place ourselves in judgment of who is a "real" Christian and who is not good enough - yet - since they haven't done the things we believe mark someone who's "in" our group or meets our standards.

Grace is a free gift. You do nothing to earn it. Baker says, "While there are "proper, reciprocal responses to the gift of grace, Paul [in Ephesians] did not believe there were preconditions required to receive the gift of grace (pg. 68).

Speaking of which, Western culture resists making any connections between God's grace and expectations or reciprocity, a return gift or action, but that is neither the historical response to a gift, nor is it considered polite even in Western society (pg. 63). There is a proper response to a gift which is at the minimum a verbal or, even better, written thank you and at the most, a return gift of equal or greater value. 

God's Grace deserves a response as well. At the minimum an appreciation and an attitude of gratitude to God, and the actions or behaviors that reflect that appreciation for the gravity or importance of the gift.

But, that's another post and I don't want you to then go into the legalism of the "right" response. Let's let Grace simmer a little on the mental stove, first. 

God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you, Dr. Karen

#gratitude #freedom #religion #womeninministry #brainretraining #MarkDBaker #Freedomfromreligiosityandjudgmentalism #liddell

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