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The Grace Message I Believe Now - Part 2

Its no surprise really that many of the Christians I began this grace message with on Facebook, are now silent when it comes to discussions about grace – or they’ve even deleted their account.  The Gospel should be something that you do eventually “get”, without the need to constantly learn and debate with other people.  The church has kept people bound in a religious vortex from which they are unable to escape.

There seems to be a lot of expectations that people attribute to God, the Bible and the Christian life in general.  The Charismatic movement during the nineties and the Word of Faith message, created a prosperity and believing-God-for-something attitude that still persists to this day.  Even grace believers have been told, by the likes of Joseph Prince, that they can “just rest in the finished work of the cross”, as a means to prosperity and “victorious Christian living”.  I do believe in this, to an extent, but it does seem to foster a great deal of fantasy and unrealistic expectation.  I wonder if this is the reason why so many grace Christians, who were so active on forums and social networking media, have suddenly become so silent.

I believe in goal setting, but in the institutional church – it was always over-the-top, with the miraculous sprinkled in somehow.  Whilst I believe in miracles, they are, by definition – rare.  I’ve been running now for 2 years and have competed in about 4 10k races (6.2 miles).  A realistic goal for me would be to run a half-marathon (13 miles).  What would be unrealistic would be for me to consider running a 50 mile ultra-marathon – at this stage, at least.

The more you progress and mature in the grace message, the more you realise that it has a lot to do with permission to be yourself.  The church portrayed the Christian life as a continuous striving to be, do or have something you don’t already experience.  Hence, the fantasy aspect to Christianity: trying to be someone you’re not, whilst anxiously striving to attain unrealistic standards – standards of behaviour and lifestyle.  In fact, you might find that as you embrace this grace message – you become less and less of what you were told a Christian should look and act like.  Ironically, the Gospel seems to be, to a great extent, an anti-religion message.

It’s comforting to know that God is in my life, although I know that I can’t use clever formulas and principles to control my life circumstances.  I know I can’t make God do what I want, when I want; and I know that I can’t always avoid those things I consider to be bad and negative.

Although I’ve matured and improved as a person over the years, I still struggle somewhat with anxiety.  It was anxiety and its many varied toxic side effects that originally draw me to Christ.  In fact, I’d say that many, if not most, Christians come to Christ through some sort of issues.  Whilst the grace message has done a lot to help me deal with anxiety, particularly those induced through abusive religious beliefs and practices, I’m still left to deal with the anxieties of everyday life.  I would say that the Gospel only goes so far in dealing with this.

What I’ve personally found to be more useful in bringing peace of mind is a practice called The Work of Byron Katie, also known as Inquiry.  This practice is based on four simple questions and what is known as a “turnaround”.  Byron Katie asserts no set, institutional, centralised beliefs, as such.  But when people are invited to do The Work for themselves, a kind of focus and consensus of beliefs and attitudes comes to the fore and a kind of philosophy and approach arises out of that.  This approach has a lot to do with accepting “what is” and not arguing with reality.  This does not mean we should not be passionate, have opinions and take bold action – it just means freedom from stressing over things we cannot change.  The Work can, at times, seem rather extreme and controversial: there’s no way a religious Christian could adopt this approach.  But the grace message makes it possible for Christians to do this.  You might think that The Gospel and The Work don’t quite mix well – but I believe that they do.

I suppose you could say that my spiritual beliefs are rather unique now.  If I could summarise what I believe now, I suppose I’d say a foundation of Biblical, faith-righteousness, as popularised by Joseph Prince and Bertie Brits; with the core being a fusion of The Free Believers Network and The Work of Byron Katie.

I’ve invested a lot of time and effort (and frustration) in the pursuit of my spiritual beliefs.  I still don’t feel I’ve arrived and as much as I’m excited and enthusiastic about it all – I’m still inclined to be frustrated, confused and inclined to give it all up, at times.  Many have been the time that I’d pursue a concept with a passion – only for it to lead me to a dead-end.  It’s for this reason why I’m not so inclined these days to push my beliefs on to other people.  But I’m passionate about being totally honest and expressing my beliefs and opinions from genuine experience – rather than just simply quoting someone else.  I could be wrong with my current beliefs – but it seems to be working rather well and making sense, so far.

The Grace Message I Believe Now - Part 1

Like many Christians, I’m very grateful to grace preachers such as Joseph Prince for helping to bring Christianity out of the dark ages, from stifling religion to enlightenment and spiritual freedom.  But I notice that there’s often a significant disparity between the beliefs of even self-proclaimed grace believers.  It indicates to me that this is a journey in which a person’s beliefs evolve and, hopefully, mature.  The first major obstacle to overcome is the concept of faith by righteousness alone – I see this as the linchpin when it comes to grace.  It is little wonder that many believers, who come into this message, feel the need to avidly share and discuss this revelation with others.

But this journey goes even beyond faith-righteousness.  As a believer begins to experience freedom, they begin to question more and more the things they once held as sacred and unquestionable – things like the tithe and church attendance.  It’s refreshing to see that whilst some grace preachers, such as Joseph Prince, still believe in tithing; others such as Bertie Brits, are against it.

I find that as you progress along this path of freedom, you begin to engage the heart more, as the tough questions you always wanted to ask, think for yourself and engage with others in a meaningful, heart-felt manner.  Gone are the days when you needed someone else to teach you the very things that ought to come natural to you – such as loving others.  As you engage the heart, you find that you no longer study the Bible as an intellectual pursuit.  In fact, you find that you use the Bible less and less as the Christian life shifts from an intellectual study, something theoretical, towards a genuine experience.

As you shift towards living according to your heart, rather than your head, you find that you no longer need to listen to the faith-righteousness message of Joseph Prince and the like.  I mean you get it – you really get it.  It’s at this point that your interest is no longer on studying and quoting Bible verses but living the journey.  It’s at this point that you’re more inclined to listening to The God Journey and The Free Believers Network – Into the Wild podcasts.  These are not preachers who are teaching you something, but discussions between like-minded grace believers who are out of the system of organised religion (church) and are now living from their hearts.  If you’re not used to these podcasts you might find them pushing the boundaries of what you find acceptable – you might even find them a little shocking.  But I’m grateful to these podcasts because they had the effect of “sandblasting” the last vestiges of religion off me.  Although I no longer need to listen to these podcasts, as I believe I’ve fully absorbed this message, I still listen every week because I love their rawness, honesty and humour.

It surprises me just how religious some so-called grace believers can be.  It seems that many Christians still hold onto certain concepts that they deem sacred and taboo and are willing to guard with their life.  For some its repentance for others the tithe, another might still hold to church attendance or whatever.  You can tell what belief a person is clinging onto when you see rather animated discussions on forums and social networking media such as Facebook.  I used to go on Facebook a lot when I came into the grace message – it helped establish me in my beliefs.  But I think you reach a point whereby you no longer feel the need to do discuss and argue with others about your beliefs.  I suppose this is because you’re a lot more confident and mature in your beliefs.  There are some people who feel the need to convince others of what they believe.  This could emanate from a genuine desire to help others.  But it’s just as likely to come from a need for significance, as they try to establish themselves as a grace-guru.  I just see some of the discussions on Facebook between mature and immature Christians – and I can already predict the futile circles it will go.  I see the Bible quotes and the big blocks of text and it just makes me wince!

For me what marks-out a religious Christian is the way they feel the need to quote a Bible verse for every little thing they say or do.  It’s as if they have to speak in Bible verses.  I believe the integrity of the Bible and that it’s inspired of God, but there is a need to get on and live your own life according to your own God-given destiny.  Otherwise, you simply read about, and quote, the lives of godly men and women from the ancient middle-east

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