Grace will set you free (if you’ll allow her)

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Grace is a beautiful thing for both the giver and the receiver, it turns the law on its head, it makes life healthier, it makes engagement with others easier, it helps to see both the human and divine in others…but grace, grace will set you free if you only allow her to.

The thing is, grace doesn’t ask for a lot, in fact it gives of itself without expecting anything in return. This can be frustrating at times for those who don’t comprehend it because so often of the time we want someone to get what’s coming to them, we want someone to experience retribution- by our hands or others.
Yet grace frees us from that, it frees us from wanting the worst in someone and it helps us to start to see the best in someone, which goes beyond human comprehension, but that is what makes grace so magical.

In my own life, I realize that grace has won me over and continues to do so. It is God working through me working with grace to help me realize my fragility, my need for being okay when it’s okay to not be okay. But it is also because of grace that I realize I have value and I don’t need to hang my head and think I am unlovable or undesirable.
As a result, I am able to extend similar if not the same grace unto others.
Grace has set me free because I allowed her to do so, won’t you let her do the same?

~Nathanael~

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subvert the norm; Christmas Eve edition

Christmas Eve musings

It humbles me to think how God subverted the norm through Jesus. How he sent Jesus as a baby, not a conquering warrior. His presence was made known to lowly working class shepherds, not wealthy well-to-dos. He lived a life of love and grace that was modeled upon following not believing. He pointed out the faith of those who occupied his people’s lands and marveled in it. He wrestled with doubt, atheism, and the absence of God.

He demonstrated a way of life that turned everything on its head and was killed because of it. But 3 days later he shattered the walls of death, tore down the separation between God & humanity, and the division was no more because it was indeed finished.

May we continue to subvert the norms of today in the name of God, in the name of good to all. May we love till it hurts. May we unbind the shackles of legalism and self proclaimed religiosity, and extend and receive faith and grace to all. May we see and explore this good world through a lens of color, and not one that’s black and white. May we be part of the process of tikkun olam and perfect shalom.

Be blessed and continue to bless others!

~Nathanael

love requires proximity – of evangelicals, reformed sex offenders and pedophiles

Love requires proximity has been the mantra of my heart for a while now, it unsettles me, it gets me out of comfort and drives me into the direction of where rubber hits the road time and time again. Yet there are still people I have yet to engage, and lately as I’ve been meditating and praying over who do I need to invest in that I’ve put off in investing I’ve come up with 3 groups of people:
1.) Evangelicals (across the board, not simply fundamentals)
2.) Reformed sex offenders
3.) Reformed pedophiles

Now I cannot fully explain the latter 2, but I can certainly address the first one.

I once identified as being an Evangelical in my life. I knew the Bible verses, I knew the songs, I had good answers to difficult questions, I had good torts and rebuttals to those who dared rattle my belief system, I had belief and I thought I knew it all and in knowing it all that’s all that mattered.
Funny, God must be a fan of baseball, because God certainly threw a few curve balls my way.

– God put members of the LGBTQ community in my life, and so I needed to rethink what I thought / what had been instilled into me.
– I wrestled with doubt and questioning (and I still do) and realized the shakiness of my foundation…and being okay with not being okay.
– I worked in youth ministry contexts where students went through issues I never imagined because I was wrapped up in bubble wrap whilst in my Evangelical bubble.
– I furthered my education in science and learned how there is evidence that the world isn’t young (gasp!) and that there is strong evidence to support evolution (double gasp!) and yet I see God’s handiwork in it all.

among other things…

And now on the outside of Evangelicalism I hold know position of being “better” or “more evolved” for where I am now. I realize that my season of being an Evangelical took something from me, but it also gave me a pretty good foundation as to where I am now. Yes it wasn’t all good, but that’s why with much of life’s experiences I have or am in the process of thanking God for that season of life. I am also finding ways to “eat the meat and spit out the bones” of these experiences.
But back to love requiring proximity… The Evangelical camp is one I have until recently distanced myself from, but 2 things have shifted that, one local and one a bit more broad.

***

Locally I am involved with a Bible study that meets on Tuesday nights at various restaurants in the area. We’ve been going over Ephesians and soon we will will be starting a book about idolatry. The individuals who make up this group are diverse in their thinking, as with many groups of people, one thought pattern doesn’t fit all. And while I knew some of these guys prior to being a part of this Bible study, I know them a bit better than merely what’s on the surface.
I appreciate sharing with them my insight and I appreciate what they have to offer up as well, even if we tend to go down quite a few rabbit trails. 🙂 It has been a real blessing investing time with these individuals, not because I have a time-with-Evangelicals quota I need to fill but because it comes back to (you guessed it) love requires proximity.

***

On a larger swath which I am looking for ways to connect, is Brandan Robertson’s Evangelicals for Marriage Equality campaign.

Marriage equality isn’t something I think about when it comes to Evangelicals, I admit that I was privately homophobic and used the word Gay as an adjective for stupid or dumb for a brief season of my life, but when Brandan put out some info about this campaign, my heart leaped for joy!
He might be placed under the microscope by many for this bold and courageous move on his part, but I know that it is needed. The world needs more Evangelicals like Brandan, and I will do what I can to help their voices be heard!

Thanks be to God for instilling in me the desire to love in proximity to others for the goodness of others.

~Nathanael~