Monday, November 28, 2011

Accepting People as They Are?!?

It is the mark of the Gospel that God accepts people as they are.  It is also the mark of the Gospel that He does not leave them as He found them.  We as Lutherans have cast off the oppressive burden of the Law and insist that it is not what we do that enables us to find favor in God's sight.  It is by grace alone.  Yet we have become guilty of thinking that this means that God must approve of us as we are and leave us as we are -- without change or transformation by the Spirit.  So if God finds us in one pet sin or another, God must change and broaden His love to accept not only us but that pet sin (whatever one you want to fill that definition).

For the ELCA this means adoption of the GLABT agenda as the agenda of the Gospel itself and God's work.  For other Christians it means accepting the consumer mentality that loves things more than anything.  For other Christians it means substituting the green revolution for the way of the Cross.  For other Christians it means insisting that God must address the wounds and wrongs of this mortal life to improve it and make it happier, easier, and richer so that we have our best life now.... I could go on...

N. T. Wright, in his book Simply Christian addresses this point well:

"We have lived for too long in a world, and tragically even in a church ... where the wills and affections of human beings are regarded as sacrosanct as they stand, where God is required to command what we already love and to promise what we already desire."
Redemption has become God's adoption of our pet sins and foibles and His approving of them so that we are little different after faith than before.  In contrast to that, the real Gospel speaks not only of the transformation that God makes in us by the Spirit working through the means of grace, but that this transformation is exactly the change of our wills and desires (affections) so that they reflect Him and not us.  Is this not what we pray the ancient collect:

Almighty God, who alone can bring order to the unruly wills and passions of sinful humanity: give your people grace so to love what you command and to desire what you promise, that, among the many changes of this world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.  Amen!


Anglican Beach Party said...

Very good thoughts. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Antinomianism is the new flavor for
those who find God's Will distasteful
They have taken the Gospel to mean
freedom to do as you please. When
we refuse to accept the Decalogue
as relevant for the 21st century,
there will be chaos...abortion, gay
marriage, heterosexual co-habitation.

Rev. Allen Bergstrazer said...

Not sure who said it first, but I too have been saying for years that God loves us where we are at but He doesn't leave us there. It is not at all loving for the church to turn a blind eye to sin. Leaving people to die in their trespasses, iniquity and sin because they are the norms of the culture is a curse to the individuals involved, and turns the bride of Christ into a prostitute to the spirit of the age.

Andy said...

I found this as a posting on Facebook; an excellent essay.

Sadly, many blur the concepts of accepting one as they are with accepting onewhere they are.