Holy Math and The Divine Foxiness

 
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However much we hate our inability to live up to what we imagine God demands of us, and the impossible heights He commands us to climb to to achieve personal holiness, we are more afraid of grace. Grace announces freedom to us. But, God-given freedom comes only in the way of forgiveness, and forgiveness comes only in the way of Jesus. No Jesus, no grace. No grace, no freedom. No freedom, we go right on fantasizing about what God demands of us—who has earned his just rewards, who deserves which punishment at what time, and which one of us God likes best.

Therefore, God's grace cannot win the day until our fantasies about what He demands from us are shut-up. There is no way for us to see our Christian freedom clearly—the freedom to which Jesus as our Good Shepherd drives us, until our day dreams about right and wrong, good and evil, moral and immoral are bound, gagged, ands stuffed in a trunk so Jesus may be "all in all" for us.

But, here is the twist. God in His divine foxiness sends us a preacher to give away grace and freedom in Jesus Christ in such a way that God Himself seems to forgive the immoral and reward the wicked. This is just wrong according to our way of doing holy math because it throws our fantasies in our face and exposes them for what they are: our sad attempts to protect ourselves from God. 

God's grace is not fully revealed until the Prodigal's father orders the killing of the fattened calf and the elder brother correctly sees that for all his years of goodness he never even got a goat. The grace of the Vineyard Owner isn't fully revealed until those who worked one hour are paid the same as those who worked all day. The Good Samaritan is just an insult to Jesus' Jewish audience because there's no such thing as a "good" Samaritan. So, to make him the hero of the story stands good old fashioned values on their head. 

God's grace and freedom announces the truth to us about ourselves. We need a real Savior—a Savior who isn't a figment of our twisted, sinful fantasies about right and wrong. We need a Savior Who does not judge us based on merit or demerit, whether we are worthy or unworthy, if we are good enough or just plain trash. Grace and freedom do not cause us to run away from comfort and relief. They drive us into the fold, like two sheep dogs, to Jesus.

God’s grace and freedom announces the truth to us about ourselves. We need a real Savior
— Donavon Riley

Once we are returned to the fold, when the Son says we are free, then we are free indeed. Free to trust Jesus to take care and satisfy all our needs of body, soul, and mind. Free to love our neighbor, even free to love our neighbor in the way of God's actual commands, not our twisted fantasies about what God's Law demands from us, especially now that Jesus has lifted the weight of judgment off our shoulders and nailed it to His cross.

The weight of carrying our fantasies about God and His judgment have been lifted off us by Christ Jesus. So now, when someone asks, "If God declared to you His grace and freedom in Christ Jesus, what would you do with that freedom?", you can answer, "Enjoy everything as gift from our gracious Giver God, and get used to being forgiven, even when we I am afraid of grace and prefer to believe that my personal holiness matters more to God than Jesus' bloody suffering and death for me."

Donavon Riley is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author, Online Content Director for Higher Things, a contributing writer at 1517 Legacy Project, Christ Hold Fast, and LOGIA. Pastor Riley co-hosts the podcast: 'The Higher Things Simul Cast'.