Living under grace means living a convinced life as one greatly loved and greatly forgiven. It means living beyond obligation, beyond karma, beyond the cycle of reaping what you sow. Grace means radical kindness, love coming at you when you don’t deserve it, life redeemed and freed from the prison of ought. Life under grace is a life set free to live with a full joyous heart.
18 “Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are as scarlet, They will be as white as snow; Though they are red like crimson, They will be like wool. Isaiah 1:18
When issues of faith, of grace, of religion in general, are raised, often we feel defensive. Amazingly, according to the scripture, we are not told to suppress our defensiveness, but to embrace it. God asks us to come, to reason with Him, to become convinced of the reality of His mercy and grace. If we are defensive, it is important to consider what we are defending! Are we defending the freedom to be selfish, to live an isolated existence of self-absorbed pleasures? Are we defending the comfort of old and confining habits? Are we defending our right to continue to fail? Or are we defending our heart, are we pressing for that which has the ring of truth? Christ is not trying to do an end run around your doubts to trick you into an unwanted dead joyless virtue. He embraces your questions, welcomes your doubts; He is pressing you towards a life of simplicity and integrity of heart and mind.
We are extremely excited to offer a new six-week series called Reasonable Grace. We want to offer the whole community the opportunity to hear the liberating message of freedom and forgiveness in Christ, and to have the chance to have many common objections to faith addressed in a reasonable way.
Here is a list of topics which will be addressed in the 6 week course:
- Why does Christianity obsess about guilt and forgiveness? Why not just love and acceptance? Why is the cross the primary symbol of Christianity?
- Does grace violate justice? How can we not reap what we sow? Can karma really be broken? Does grace mean we don’t have to worry about being good at all? The miracle of faith in Christ is that it breaks the power of true justice that stands against us. We can live again as if fate were on our side, instead of stealing our pleasures against the power of our past.
- Christ and other religions. Jesus said “No one comes to the Father but through me.” What about other religions? Is it necessary or right for Christianity to remain so exclusive?
- Is faith intellectual suicide? The relationship between science and faith. There is a superficial discord between religion and science, but there is a deeper concord between them. Many scientists at all levels are people of faith, such as Francis Collins, the head of the human genome project, are publicly speaking and writing about this. We will talk about some of the things going on in this old debate, and give you some ways to think strongly and freely about the relationship between faith and science.
- Getting out of the prison of ought: breaking free of living by obligation to living a life of freedom in the Spirit. Many people think the Christian faith represents nothing more than a strict moral code to live by. Others teach that Christianity is actually the end of religion. Come hear about grace, God’s one-way love coming at you even though you don’t deserve it. Grace is living beyond obligation as one who is greatly loved, beyond what you merely ought to do, beyond earning favor. Grace is living in the world where everything is a gift.
- Theism / Atheism vs. Agnosticism: What atheism and theism agree on. There is knowable truth, and there really is a discernable reality to things beyond what is physically apparent. Atheists and theists agree about this, and agnostics are very much a part of the same dialog, giving their own dogmatic answers to the same questions. We live in a time when all three camps are coming out of the closet as evangelistic believers in things.
- Real Girls and Boys: Some people would say that we are only collections of water and biochemicals and genes, that we are nothing more than machines made of meat; we don’t really have freedom or choice. For such people, love and poetry and music and belief and joy and grief can all be boiled down to neuroscience and random chance physics. Some others would say that God so controls things that everything we choose and do is completely predetermined. The real message of the grace of God is freedom, and freedom means we are real individuals.
- The Bible: Strange antiquated mythology or truth from God the Creator? Why do some Christians get so fired up about the Bible, and call it “the Word of God”, when it seems so strange and difficult to read? Should God’s book have been a little more straightforward?
- Faith and Politics: keeping God and “Caesar” separate. Christianity is not in the least married to right-wing politics, this is a recent cultural aberration. Yet, it doesn’t seem right that we should check our beliefs in at the door when we vote. What is the right relationship between faith and politics? We might talk about sex in this session so we can be sure to offend everyone!
- Homosexuality: why won’t the Church bend on cherished moral issues? How can Christians talk about love and forgiveness and grace and yet be so mean and unyielding concerning someone’s private yearnings? The answer isn’t at all what most people fear.
- Hell: Are you kidding me? How does the message of love and grace fit with this horrible medieval teaching? We will talk some sense about an important yet touchy subject.
- Essential Christian Belief: freedoms and choices in the “Great Hall” of faith. Some aspects of Christianity are essential and true across all denominations and congregations. Beyond this there is freedom to dialog, to debate, to think differently. This session is all about finding your way in the crazy world of choosing a congregation.
We’re looking at starting this April 17th on Tuesday nights at 7 PM at Dakota Creek Christian Center in Blaine, WA.