Thursday, January 21, 2016

Jesus reframes forgiveness

Chapter 6 in Michael Frost's book 'Jesus the Fool: The Mission of The Unconventional Christ' is a fairly looooooong one. However, I didn't highlight a whole lot from it. So, here are some main points from the chapter "Jesus Reframes Forgiveness."

"Jesus is running contrary to every belief in the Ancient Near East, whether educated or not, that religion is the regimen by which we purchase the deity's good graces. For Jesus, religion is an expression of devotion to a deity who has already bestowed his good graces upon his people."

"Jesus never condemns a strict religious lifestyle as long as it is engaged in as a result of an encounter with God. He never condemns Pharisees, for example, because of their lifestyle of religious regulation. If such a lifestyle bespeaks the devotion and gratitude that one senses after experiencing God's grace, it is to be encouraged. But if it is a badge of office, a mark to show spiritual superiority, then it is roundly condemned by Jesus."

"In this episode Jesus [forgiving sin], the great reframer, reverses the usual religious trend that see the faithful performing acts of service in order to earn their God's forgiveness. Jesus in effect says, 'if you respond to me with acts of devotion and worship, do so in light of my love and mercy, not in order to achieve them.'"

"Grace is the term used to describe God's desire to shower you with his favor, even though you may not deserve it. It is the gift of his love. And, of course, you can't pay for a gift. All you can do is open yourself to accepting God's undeserved favor. Can you imagine how offensive it is to the giver when someone tries to pay for his gracious act?

Let me illustrate this by having you imagine that you invite me to your home for a meal. I accept. When I arrive I notice the front veranda light is on and your children are peeking excitedly through the curtains at me. I knock on the door and you all greet me in the foyer with kisses and handshakes and bring me into your warm comfortable living room. I am seated in the most comfortable chair in the house. The children crawl all over me. I am offered a glass of wine and told to kick my shoes off. We talk like old friends. Then the children head off to bed and we retire to the dining room. There is a table set for a king. The meal is brought forth and it is so magnificent that it speaks of hours of preparation. After the feast we talk for hours.

In fact, the whole night is devoted to talking about me. You show such interest in my concerns and struggles and hopes and fears. I just feel so at home, surrounded by warmth and love and acceptance. This is grace. Then when I notice the hour and realize it's way too late to be taking up any more of your time, I jump to my feet, reach into my hip pocket for my wallet, and say, 'What a lovely night. How much do I owe you for that?'

How do you feel by such offense? What an outrage! What you offered me was your home, your family, your time, your devotion, your love, your esteem. I can't begin to pay for that. And it is a gross insult for me to imagine that I could. This is grace --- a favor that is undeserved, priceless."

This was another good chapter. I do have to admit, though, that sometimes he kind of loses me in these long chapters. Not that I don't understand what he's trying to say, but the connection to the point he's trying to make can get iffy. Although, it's probably just me. I am not a fan of long chapters, and even though this is an ebook, I can tell the chapters are pretty long.