Does It Take Desire, Effort, or Mercy?
“What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not, therefore, depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” Romans 9: 14-16
Wow? God’s favor and mercy towards us does not depend on our desire or effort? That is a huge relief, but it seems to go against much of what the traditional/institutional “church” has been telling us about ourselves since it all began. The powers that be have said for ages that the way we tithe or give money to the church results in God’s blessing or lack thereof. They have even implied that our attendance in “church” services somehow helps determine how God views us. They also proclaim that how much we read and study our bibles somehow affects our status in God’s economy.
Most “churches” say upfront that our relationship with God is supposed to be about faith and not works, but in practice they demand works from us in order to remain members in good standing. I hate mixed messages, but they abound from pulpits every single week.
So is it mercy and grace or works and effort that maintain our relationship with God? Or is it a mixture of both faith and works? I say it is much more about God than it is about us. However, I do believe that how we respond to God’s grace and mercy does play a role in our ongoing salvation and current state of being. I have looked at Universal Reconciliation, but I am not fully ready to say that all are saved regardless of our actions and choices quite yet. I do feel that God’s forgiveness and grace is MUCH, MUCH, bigger than what most current day “churches” teach and practice. To me, it is all about Jesus, but at some point we need to acknowledge and cooperate with what God has freely set before us. The grace of God gives us unmerited favor, but we also need to walk within the parameters of HIS grace.
I know what I want to say on this topic, but I just can’t seem to find sufficient words to say what is on my heart and mind. I feel that no matter how I say it..I will be misunderstood. Theologians have pondered the tension between grace and works for centuries. The truth is that it is hard to balance the notion of unmerited favor with “faith without works is dead.” (James 2) The way Martin Luther wanted to deal with it was to leave the book of James out of the bible altogether. I just can’t do that. However, my understanding is that the fruit of the Spirit comes through faith that God is working within you, and not at all by self discipline or works.
Well, I threw my thoughts out there on the subject. Anyone else dare to weigh in? Today I am as clear as mud it seems LOL.
Kirk Out !