I grew up in an Italian Pentecostal church on The Hill in St. Louis. The seeds of my Faith were planted then. I learned a lot of good. And I learned some bad.
Being guilt driven and judgmental were two skills I brought forward into adulthood. It was these skills that I used most when forming my first band, Grievance Honor. My lyrics were once described as “judgmental and depressing”. I was offended by that. After all, these people in the audience at the clubs needed me to yell at them about their future in hell. That’s how they will get saved, right?
It took years, so many years… and so many times being let down by religiosity before I was able to start seeing the truth about myself and my relationship with God. As an older gentleman, I began to realize that most of my piety was a sheer act of my own discipline. And because I was able control myself from committing the sins that you commit, I gained a sense of self righteousness. I was, in fact, better than you. Except when I wasn’t.
I referred to myself as a gentleman because I cut my hair some time ago and now appear wholesome. I kid. I am older. I have the benefit of life experience. And what I’ve learned is that, quite simply put… all is grace.
My God and Savior put up the ransom for me because my piety is filthy menstrual rags. That’s right. My best day, my best behavior through my own piety earns me nothing. It is only by the grace of a fiercely loving God who’s Son demonstrated His Father’s affections and laid down everything for us. None of us can boast. We are helplessly lost until we come to the understanding of grace driven by an unrelenting love from the very Creator of your soul.
And grace is not a license to sin. As Brennan Manning said, it is a reason not to. We simply have to begin to understand the fierce affection God has for us. This understanding elicits a response from your soul. Read Scripture, pray and meditate on His affection for you. Throw away the cliched understanding of “Jesus loves you” and truly grasp what that means. Then, we will begin to really understand grace and it’s part in our relationship with Him. It’s not a license to sin. You married folk don’t avoid cheating on your spouse because of your morality. You avoid it because you love each other. That is the result of a relationship forged in love and delivered in grace.
Motivating us through love is always better than guilt or fear. I fear that most churches do not focus enough on the relentless love and affection God has for us, so it is mostly a bumper sticker now. I urge you to consider reading Brennan Manning’s book called “Furious Longing of God”. Thanks for reading.
peace – rick