In my neck of the woods there are a number of churches with the name, “Grace.” Different denominations with, we can suppose, quite different beliefs. But they all think of themselves as God’s People living in God’s good graces.
I was raised saying grace, before meals. Being grateful for food and family was easy. Then I learned that, as an undeserving sinner who offended God just by breathing and hurt God just because my heart was beating, I needed GRACE. So I prayed for it and got it! God was graciously full of grace for me, a desperate sinner.
“Saved by faith; saved by grace; saved from sin; saved from myself.”
Now, I find that very sad, don’t you?
I was teaching a class on Walt Whitman today. A great voice of Freethought who celebrated LIFE, Nature, the body and soul, the goodness of the world. Walt said,
“And no one, not God, is greater to one than oneself is.”
“I hear and behold God in every object, yet understand God not in the least,
Nor do I understand who there can be more wonderful than myself.”
This isn’t merely a poet being “full of himself.” Whitman was an incredible chaplain during the Civil War, and wrote in praise of Humanity over and over. It wasn’t just about HIM. Whitman is the ultimate inclusive, democratic singer of LIFE without GRACE. Who needs grace, when you are already “god”?
See, there’s something strange going on, folks. Churches call themselves “grace” and countless Christians believe their God is a God of grace. . .but what does that really mean?
Grace: “the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings.”
Let me translate this very simply: Grace means that I don’t deserve any good that God has to give, so God killed his favored Son to put me in God’s good favor so forever I can be deeply grateful that God is happy with me, though I really don’t deserve it.
Let me say it one more way: I am a piece of crap loved by God and there is nothing at all about me as a person, nothing at all I could ever do, to make God happy with me. I am a flawed and fallen sinner, worthless to my very core. Without God (one particular God, by the way) choosing to show me “grace” (“I’ll love you and forgive you though you’ll never deserve it”) I’m lost, nothing, deserving of punishment– grace-less.
Good gracious! Who wants Grace?
I’ll take Whitman’s appreciation for each person as wonderful–even “divine.” That seems much healthier, don’t you think?