Tuesday, October 26, 2010

We are "kalein." Yay-uh!

In his book The Ragamuffin Gospel, Brennan Manning says that, "The bending of the mind by the powers of this world has twisted the gospel of grace into religious bondage and distorted the image of God into an eternal, small-minded bookkeeper."

How do we break from this idea that our relationship with Jesus is one of great freedom and deep affection rather than one that paints the picture of a business transaction: "Ok,, Jesus. I'm going to make myself perfect, and then we'll hang out. Cuz i'm pretty sure that you wouldn't want anything to do with me otherwise..."  

How do we break from religious bondage into spiritual freedom? We break from bondage by knowing who we are and Whose we are. It seems to always come back to those two truths.

The lies are that we have gone too far, waited too long, or not done enough to receive love. The lies then tell us that we have to make up for lost time, earn rights to or somehow work hard enough to be received and accepted. 

For all the lies that there are,they are countered by one truth: That's just it: we can't do anything. We can only be--be who He has invited us to be. We are His beloved children, honored guests at his banquet table, and heirs of the kingdom. Nothing we do creates distance between ourselves and Jesus. It's our flesh that tells us there's a rift. We have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us...always.

In the New Testament where Jesus was known to dine with sinners and tax collectors, the word kalein is used--the Greek word for invite. The craziest thing about this word is that it implies that these were guests of honor. Honor! Those considered outcasts and scum of their societies in that their time were invited as honored guests in the presence of Jesus.

Let's be honest here. Grasping the depths of this is freakin' hard. We can and will spend our whole lifetimes being blown away at the ginormousness (yes, I just used that) of His grace. 

We are not ostracized from the grace of love of God; we are guilty of ostracizing ourselves when we believe the lie over the truth. Not only does He pursue us, He takes joy in doing so.

"Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted."
-B. Manning


Monday, October 25, 2010

Irrevocable: No Take-backs.

True love (and by this, I mean agape love) is unmerited. We do nothing to deserve it. It is beautifully bestowed upon us for no other reason than for the truth that we have been chosen. Agape love is a sacrificial love that demonstrates one's volition to pursue someone, accept someone, and serve someone even though there is nothing that is inherently worthy about the one who is being loved.

Though a beautiful and weighty truth, this is one of the hardest things for human beings to accept. How on earth is love freely given? We live so often by the concepts of earning, buying or having to work really hard for something before we can attain it. Simply put: This is yet another backdrop for the subversiveness of Jesus Christ: His love is just that--unconditional.

My flesh desires to strive, to earn and to make myself good enough to deserve something. The reality is that there is absolutely nothing I can do in the sight of Christ to make me more lovable, more acceptable, more whole, or more ready for His love. It is without condition. Truly, there are no strings attached. This is insanely counter to what we know as humans.

More often than not, our flesh experiences conditional love. We're loved until we do something wrong or don't meet expectations that others have put up for us. The idea that we can be loved less by someone because of our own fault is, in some ways, more believable and more of a reality than the fact that someone could love us despite everything we've done.

The image that paints the best picture for me is the that of adoption (as it is used in its original context). Adoption implies that the child is chosen--for good. Once that child is adopted, he or she cannot be returned (How harsh does that sound?), given over to someone else, or exchanged for someone who is better. He or she is chosen forever--no questions asked. In essence, the parent says, "I choose you--no if's and's or but's."
This choosing is done forever. The parent will always choose the child. It's not a one time thing. If that is true, then not only is it a continual process of being chosen, it's a continual process for the child to to receive that love and to claim his or her identify of being child.

This is what I continue to learn more deeply every day. I am in great need of His grace--the grace that enables me to receive His unmerited love and to claim my true identity in Him. I am a daughter of the King--fully loved, fully received, and given life to be experienced in the fullest.

May His grace abound in us, so that we can really live this out.

Poor blog attendance.

I've been absent from this blog for a while. In the midst of going to school and finishing up my program as well as teaching, I've found that spare time is minimal, and when I do have some, the last thing I want to do is sit on my computer some more. I am slightly bummed though because so much has gone on, and I wish that I would have been more intentional about keeping record of it via this blog.

Since I can't sum up everything that has gone on, I can leave you with a friend's post that gives a glimpse into how i'm doing. I'm doing really well, God's teaching me a lot, and i'm excited for what the future holds.

My friend Rosina took some pictures for a teaching website that i'm starting, and this is the post that she featured on her blog. I love how she takes pictures. She is not into posing, which is great because I can't pose to save my life. Here is what we ended up with during a morning coffee date I had with her:

Here's one of the pictures she took while we were at breakfast.
 By the way, if you haven't eaten at Starling diner in Long Beach, you are missing out!
I highly recommend it. They've won awards for their delicious french toast and converted me, a non-french-toasting eating gal, to one who almost has to split an order every time i go there.