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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.

1 comments:

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