Black, White, and Unconditional Gray

We find security in absolutes.  We are prone to form cliques.  We want to find our niche.  We sit in the same place nearly every Sunday in church. 😉  There are “love languages” and “personality types” and signs of the zodiac and “seasons.”  We like to put things in nice, safe, neat cubby holes.  But there are many things in life that refuse to conform to these immovable partitions.  That is where faith very often comes in.

We know certain things about the attributes of God.  We know He is holy.  He is just.  He is love. He is immutable (unchanging).  But then there is His mercy.  At any given moment, God’s mercy can bridge the gap between penalty and charity.  This does not negate His immutability.  Rather, it decidedly, divinely places the jewel of grace prominently on display.  God’s unconditional love makes it possible to span the distance, because there is a wideness in His mercy:

There’s a wideness in God’s mercy
like the wideness of the sea;
there’s a kindness in his justice,
which is more than liberty.
There is welcome for the sinner,
and more graces for the good;
there is mercy with the Savior;
there is healing in his blood.

There is no place where earth’s sorrows
are more felt than in heaven;
there is no place where earth’s failings
have such kind judgment given.
There is plentiful redemption
in the blood that has been shed;
there is joy for all the members
in the sorrows of the Head.

For the love of God is broader
than the measure of man’s mind;
and the heart of the Eternal
is most wonderfully kind.
If our love were but more faithful,
we should take him at his word;
and our life would be thanksgiving
for the goodness of the Lord.~Frederick William Faber, 1862

I think sometimes those in Christian leadership are somehow afraid to dwell upon this.  Sort of in the same way that many in fundamental circles shy away from preaching “too much” on the person of the Holy Spirit.  Oh dear.  They fear that their congregants might take it too far.  Too far?  “As far as the east is from the west” is the predetermined distance between our sin and the righteous judgment of God.  How do we dare think we have the right to pull the horizons together with our bare hands, when His nail-pierced ones have by choice pushed them apart?

Unregenerate people (and believers too) are starving to hear this.  We’ve had decades now of judgment and conformity, believing that keeping a whip and chair close at hand will grant us the acceptance for which we ache.  We have focused on dressing right, talking right, carrying the right Bible.  Were not the Pharisees reprimanded for such an emphasis?  We have been taught that approval of men is important, being encouraged to evaluate in light of the question,”What will they think?”  We allow that fear or guilt to motivate us.  I confidently suggest that God never intended it.

We have been given a free will by the Creator Himself…and so, our choice for obedience is an offering every time.  He delights in these decisions.  With every one, we say, “I choose You instead of myself.”  What a treasure. Lovely.

Friends, we are already “accepted in the beloved,” and you had no hand in it.  Jesus Christ gave Himself for us, “while we were yet sinners.”  Our acceptance is already secured.  It is a free gift.  It is to be personally received.  You can’t pay for it now, or ever.  It is not earned at its inception, or somehow maintained by our works.  As James said, faith is proven (indicated) by our works. Our works are evidence, outgrowth of a changing, loving, grateful heart.

We need to let the Spirit do His work.  Preach grace and allow it to renovate hearts.  See, there are white keys on the piano.  There are also black keys.  They make the most beautiful sounds when they are played together. God does that.  We need to learn how.

“Mercy and truth are met together ; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”~Psalm 85:10

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