All is Grace : Brennan – Ragamuffin Gospel
Fyodor Dostoevsky “Doe-stee-ef-ski” (pic)
Fiction with agenda
Seems like it’s getting more true.
Crime and punishment (1866)
The Brothers Karamazov (1880) – last novel
Novel set – 12 books & epilogue – 824 pages
1 of best – along w/: War & Peace – To Kill a Mockingbird – Ulysses
One part: ‘The Grand Inquisitor’
Christ returns to earth – Seville, Spain – 1478 – during Spanish inquisition
The church held trials to find, torture and kill heretics.
Miracles, gains following, so church, decides he’s a heretic. – Sentenced to death. Burned at the stake.
Night before his death, “The Grand Inquisitor” visits him in his cell and asks “Why have you come to disturb us?”
Brief history: After 1500 years of doing church, instead of proclaiming Jesus, we replaced him.
Worked. – Church was living off the success of that brilliant plan.
Jesus – loose canon – Too much light.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” – Unforgivable.
Church decided we were incapable of being free; gave themselves the job of protecting us.
Ordinary people couldn’t handle the burden of freedom, so the church took it away for their own good.
“They’d only use it and abuse it.”
“Delivered from the anxiety and torment of personal decision and responsibility, people would feel happy in obedience to our authority.”
(Grand inquisitor) “They will be amazed by us and will think of us as gods, because we, who set ourselves as their leaders, are ready to endure freedom, this freedom from which they shrink in horror; and because we are ready to rule over them – so terrible will it seem to them, to be free. But we shall say that we are obeying you and ruling only in your name. Again we shall be betraying them, for we shall not let you have anything to do with us anymore. Indeed, why have you come to disturb us? We will take you, Jesus, who has come once again, bringing freedom once again, and burn you at the stake in the name of the church.”
The question had become not “What does Jesus say” but “What does the church say?”
That question is still being asked today.
Sad: Some Christians want – Slaves. Easier.
Sad but true: some Christians want to be slaves. Easier.
- Let others make decisions.
- Trust – letter of the law.
But Jesus remains for us a way to freedom.
The kingdom of God is a free kingdom, in which Jesus invites us to walk as free people.
Held on the path not by rules, but by the fathers love.
Jesus calls us to:
- Freedom from the fear of death,
- Freedom from the fear of life
- Freedom from anxiety over our own salvation
Tragically: many Christians aren’t experiencing the freedom that is in Christ.
We leave – house of freedom – live – house of fear.
What will I do if I don’t find a spouse, a house, a job, a best friend?
What will I do if they fire me, if I get sick, if an accident happens, if I lose my friends, if my marriage doesn’t work out
If a war breaks out
What if tomorrow the weather is bad
The freeway shuts down – – Earthquake happens?
What if someone steals my money, breaks into my house, rapes my daughter, or kills me?
If we let these question guide us, we commit to living forever in the house of fear.
“Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you.” (John 15:4)
Home – not: Heavenly mansion
Safe place midst crazy world.
“Anyone who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make a home in him. (John 14:23)
Home – Safe place – Don’t have to be afraid.
Just like we have homeless people roaming the streets, we have people who never come home to themselves.
Alcohol – drugs – Success – Intelligence – Popularity – Pleasure – Even religion
Have an address but are never at home – experiencing the freedom of being a child of God.
Hebrews – Paul , “Jesus”
“set free all those who had been held in slavery all their lives by the fear of death” (Hebrews 2:15)
If you want to be free of fear – know what Jesus knew : death is an illusion, a phantom, the bogeyman of little children. – Death – transition from half life, to full life.
Robert Hotchkins (Theologian) Christians ought to be celebrating constantly. We all ought to be preoccupied with parties, banquets, feasts, and merriment. We ought to give ourselves over to veritable orgies of joy because we have been liberated from the fear of life and the fear of death. We ought to attract people to the church quite literally by the fun there is in being a Christian.
Problem is: we tend to become somber, serious, and pompous. Forget the freedom.
At the end of the day you have to choose either Christ or the law as the author of your salvation.
Does freedom come through Christ or the torah?
Paul – Galatians 5:1
“Christ set us free, so that we should remain free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be fastened again to the yoke of slavery.”
Jewish Christians “Salvation is impossible without keeping the law.”
Paul Galatians 3:
“You stupid Galatians.”
all who rely on the works of the law are under a curse.” (Galatians 3:10)
“Clearly no one who relies on the law is justified before God, because “the righteous will live by faith.” (Galatians 3:11)
Written in the heat of the moment, the book of Galatians flaming manifesto of freedom.
Ask yourself honestly if he may say something similar to a lot of churches today:
“I am astonished that you are so promptly turning away from the one who called you in the grace of Christ and are going over to a different gospel. (Galatians 1:6)
We’ve all heard: “Freedom is not a license to sin” – true. Maybe that’s all we’ve heard, what it isn’t.
Pastors and churches (not this one) – are afraid to tell you about your freedom. Defensive and scared. They’ve had one too many people go off the deep end, so they’d rather keep you on a short leash and decide for you.
“Now this Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
Freedom in Christ produces independence from:
- Peer Pressure
- People Pleasing
- The constant need for human respect.
- “What will my friends think?” “What will my family think?”
Battlecry – slave.
Become the classic chameleon.
- Woman : different picture of herself to different men. Proper and respectful to her pastor and flirty and sketchy with her coworkers.
- Man : Sweet talking servant of God. Foul mouthed, disrespectful, coward – friends.
In Christ – freed from the desire to appear good, so we can move freely in the mystery of who we really are.
Takes a long time for learn to walk in that freedom. Courage.
Example: Charitable Giving
How can “giving freely” survive in churches who print ‘Top Donor Lists’? – Where is the widow with 2 cents?
Brennan: book – Freedom he felt “My name is Brennan and I am an alcoholic.”
Program Director “Brennan, give up trying to look and sound like a saint. It’ll be a lot easier on everybody.”
Living by grace – God’s opinion above – others.
Another Example: Prayer
Me praying – comparing me to Gail and Shirley.
In all things in the Christian life, I have the freedom to be myself.
When I try to copy, imitate others – giving up my freedom.
Compassion for others – hard.
B/C it avoids:
Snap judgments of right and wrong / good and bad / hero and villain.
It seeks truth in all it’s complexity.
Empathizes with: failed plans, repeat mistakes. “I’ve been there too.”
Book: Dad jokes : young businesswoman – stress. Doctor prescribed tranquilizers and come back in a couple weeks. “Do you feel any different” “No, I don’t. But I’ve noticed everyone else seems much more relaxed.”
We see others not as they are, but as we are.
Jesus talks a lot about our eyes.
Old cliché “The eyes are the windows of the soul.” True.
If you want to know who you are, you’re eyes will tell you. Ask yourself this question “What do you see?” – How do you respond to others? Am I compassionate person or a jerk? How you see others will tell you that.
People who can’t make peace with the other peoples imperfections have probably not made peace with their own.
When you make peace your own humanity, you’re able to tolerate it in others too.
Story. I was in uptown a couple days ago and this guy came up to me asking if I had any money I could spare so he could get him and his girlfriend some lunch. He said “Better to ask for money than steal it, you know?” Well I didn’t, but I keep a little cash in the car so I told him I could get him some money if he’d walk to my car with me. He agreed and we walked together and he told me about him coming from Texas to be with family, got in the car, said a little prayer, but I kept thinking about what he said ‘Better to ask for money than steal it, you know?’ Was this is a guy who was threatening crime if I didn’t give him money (hard heart) or was this a guy who was honestly communicating a desire to do the right thing? I don’t know, but I know that my response says a lot about me and the quality of my heart.
Judgment depends on:
What we see – How deeply we look at others – How honestly we face ourselves – How willing we are to see the human story behind a dirty face.
The gentleness of Jesus came from his ability to read their hearts.
Behind the: arrogance, sin, judgments, cruelty,
Little children – hadn’t been loved enough.
Recently in the news is the ISIS Beheadings of Christians. It’s hard to know how to respond in times like that. But I do know that the height of Jesus’s ministry was him on the cross saying “Father forgive them, they don’t know what they’re doing.” YOUR ability to say that, depends on you.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another; you must love one another just as I have loved you. It is by your love for another that everyone will recognize you as my disciples” (John 13:34-35)
Paul calls loving others
‘the fulfillment of the entire law and the prophets.’ (Romans 13)
Overstating and exaggerating this isn’t the danger.
Danger – rationalizing, qualifying, limiting.
Turning the other cheek
Walking the extra mile
Offering no resistance to injury
Forgiving 70 x 7are not just things Jesus said in passing.
The only thing that matters is
‘faith working through love’. (Galatians 5:6)
John McKenzie “Reason demands moderation in all things. But when it comes to love, faith destroys moderation. Faith doesn’t tolerate moderate love of one’s fellow man any more than it tolerates a moderate love between God and man.”
Point: gentleness towards ourself produces gentleness towards others.
Here’s the catch-22:
Gentleness towards ourselves brings healing to ourselves
Gentleness towards others brings healing to others.
Tough love has it’s place in the Christian community. Truly. I talk to parents, because of the addiction of their child, give the ultimatum “Get help or get out”. Loving, life saving. As long as there’s distinction between the action and the person.
Alcoholics anonymous founded 1935 – Early on had to decide qualification for who got in. Can drugs addicts come? Criminals come? Ultimately, anyone who admits they need help, can get in. Talk about a meeting they had when they decided based on this phrase ‘What would the master do?’
Close – The Brothers Karamazov – The Inquisitor, an old man with a withered face and sunken eyes, finally stopped insulting Jesus. He looked at Jesus, waiting and longing for him to respond. Jesus got up, walked up to the old man and kissed his ‘bloodless, aged lips’. His only answer. “And the kiss glowed in the old man’s heart.”
Experiencing the love of God is the only thing that will really change you. It’s the only thing that can.
Statement: Christ has called you to freedom. Freedom from the fear of death, freedom from the fear of life, and freedom from the fear of other peoples opinions. Never lay down your freedom. Find who God made you and hold onto it for dear life. Never let anyone place themselves between you and God. Your relationship with him is personal. And that relationship is as unique as your are. You are worthy of respect, so respect yourself. And be kind to yourself. And in that kindness, you’ll find kindness for others. Don’t put on the shackles of trying to do it like everybody else. You are made in the image of the creator God. He loves you, he’s proud of you. Let him show you who He is and who you’re supposed to be. – Amen.
Outlet started – small intimate, small group. None of us were expecting it to become what it is today. Beautiful, honest, real – Something that God is using to reconnect us with his heart.
Over the last few months, I’ve been praying, leaders have been praying:
Move Forward – Reach people
It’s time for us to move forward. – Reach people that the church as a whole, isn’t reaching.
- More closely resemble a church service – hopefully the right ways and none of the wrong ways
- Removing the Age restriction
- Move to Sunday nights – 5pm
- Switching it to Every week
There will be people who will allow us to become their church family. How can people go it alone?
We will be an honest and open community that welcomes absolutely everyone. I have friends that have a journey that’s far too complex to just invite them to come to a traditional church service.
We will use our time together to find our unique voice as the church.
Isaiah 43 – prophesying (in the voice of God) to Jerusalem about their restoration.
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. (Isaiah 43:18)
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? (Isaiah 43:19)
Every generation of Christians – has to endure growing pains.
Following God – Scary – unknown
Our parents – followed God into the new and unknown.
We don’t disregard – we continue to build
Who God is, who we are, how we’re supposed to treat people.