By grace freely given


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‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?

Is the big question.  Being saved and living forever.  Why do we yearn for that … to live forever?

How do we know with certainty that living forever is what we think living forever is … all rosy and wonderful?   What if it’s not?  What if living forever is a second that just feels like a trillion perfect years?  I have those seconds now.  I also have seconds that feel like a trillion years for all the wrong reasons.

But the one question in the bible that rarely gets asked is:

Why do you let shit happen?

If you have power over death and illness and sickness and disease – then screw this wonderful nirvana of “eternal life” …  If you love us as much as you say you do – then why do you let shit happen right now today?

The stock religious response no longer does it for me:  because we are sinners.

That’s like saying “because we are black … because we are gay … because we are alive … because we were born this way without any say or choice in the matter.“  That is a religious construction.  Created of fear …perhaps of “God” loving everyone for no reason at all other than love.

Just as this is another religious construction: “Our God is a God of mystery!” where the answers are embarrassing – but a “God” who is crystal clear when it comes to so much else.

Years ago I had a conversation about a coal-mining-community tragedy: Aberfan, Wales – 1966.  It was put to me that “if God was really God why did he let Aberfan happen” – all those innocent children dying horribly – all that grief in so many families.

And all of “that” was and still is horrific.

Our conversation finished with this: “I can’t believe in a God who allows that to happen!”

And neither can I.

Because look at “why Aberfan” and you will find people EXACTLY the same as you and me.  People who chose to construct a slag heap in the wrong place … we always put them there.  Never thought that having a village below a huge mountain of increasingly liquefying hell was a problem … never happened before.   All the choices and decisions made before AND leading up to that one horrific day …. don’t worry – we have this covered – we know what we are doing.

The God I believe in allows free-choice because without free-choice there cannot be love. 

And Aberfan was only and ever “free choice”.  Just as acceptable rates of death on the road … the rail network … the skies … of space travel … of living AND dying … are ALL calculated and costed.  We treat living AND dying as an accounting exercise (and then blame God when we get our sums wrong).

As for illness and disease?  For me life comes in all shapes and sizes.  Just like us.  Currently we rule the roost not through divine dictate – but through evolution.  A happy evolutionary accident.

And all the other life-forms we had to step on – to kill and subdue “step-on” (both macro and micro) – are still out there trying to “step-on” us – trying to become their own “happy accident”.  It’s what life forms do – or else they become extinct.

So, for me, “Why do you let shit happen?” is the wrong question.  As is this focus on eternal life and earning it.  And as is sin … I am becoming very anti-sin.  It seems to me that sin is another layer we have plastered onto this “constructed God” (we insist we do not know other than “dimly”).

We seem to like making our God ever bigger – ever less mysterious – so long as we don’t have to give up control of God or believers.  And the oddest thing about all of this “construction and/or mystery” for me … ?  None of it has to do with Love right now in THIS second of eternity.

And I think THAT is the biggest arrogance of all. 

That we “know” with “certainty” that God lays this bullshit on us in this lifetime – all so that we surrender “free-will” to receive an eternity of more constructed “knowing”.

Have a look at Egypt.

Those pyramids are for exactly the same reason.  And they didn’t call themselves Christians.  But they did fulfil certain conditions to get their eternity.

Just they didn’t call it “by grace freely given”.

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