Religion has a bad connotation for a lot of people. Many associate it with a long list of rules, often unexplained and seemingly meaningless. Deviation from these rules results in judgment, both divine and social. Questioning these rules brings forth a hoard of know-it-alls intent on putting you in your place.
The division caused by Christian churches, both within and without the church, today and throughout history, is a sad reality that results from the corruption that creeps in when God is not at its head.
You see, Christianity is not about following a pedantic set of rules. It’s not about doing anything good. It’s not about proving your worth or being good enough. The message has been twisted by centuries-worth of manipulation and greed, but the call of Christianity today is the same as it was two thousand years ago; it is a call to come home.
This is laid out pertinently in the Bible: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).
This is amazing news—life-changing, freedom-finding, soul-saving news. I don’t really know why it’s not proclaimed louder and clearer, but that’s not my purpose to uncover right now. The fact is that it’s true: We are saved by faith alone.
God doesn’t require that we first pass an entrance exam before He welcomes us home. In fact, Jesus tells us, in the parable of the Prodigal Son, that the Father, watching for His son, sees him while he is still a long way off and goes out to meet him (Luke 15:11-32).
He is watching for us, waiting with bated breath for each of His children to find their way home. He is not an impassive God who is unconcerned with His children’s wellbeing. He delights in welcoming us back.
He is not a laissez-faire force either. God is proactionary. He has given us ‘free will’ to choose Him over the world. He does not drag us home kicking and screaming. The choice is ours. But He is not inactive. We don’t always notice it at the time, but God is constantly at work. We don’t always understand it at the time, but He is working together all things for the good of those who trust in Him.
He meets us where we are at. Jesus caused uproar in His earthly ministry because He associated with “fallen people” judged to be of such low morality that the religious leaders of the day would not associate with them. But Jesus did not require these companions to change before He would talk to them. He didn’t necessitate that they repent or ask forgiveness or even admit that they had sinned. He met them where they were at, and the Bible tells us amazing redemption stories of Zaccheus returning what he had stolen (and more), of an adulteress forgiven by the Son of God Himself, of Mary Magdalene, despised as a prostitute, becoming one of the key witnesses to the Messiah’s resurrection. These changes were a result of their encounter with God, not prerequisites to meeting Him.
God meets us where we are at. He does not require a completed checklist of tasks, or great and earthly-impressive gestures.
He just calls us home. He offers us forgiveness and grace. Jesus died for us on the cross and “It is finished” was His cry. It is finished, death is conquered, we are saved. All we need to do is respond.
You are His child, He holds you dear.
Listen and you too shall hear
His message to the human race:
“Come home, my child, come home to grace.”