Law and Grace
An Economy of Grace
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
God’s freely given grace is a humiliation to the ego because free gifts say nothing about being strong, superior, or moral. Thus only the soul can understand grace, never the mind or the ego. The ego does not know how to receive things freely or without logic. It likes to be worthy and needs to understand in order to accept things as true. The ego prefers a worldview of scarcity or quid pro quo, where only the clever can win. That problem—and its overcoming—is at the very center of the Gospel plot line. It has always been overcome from God’s side. The only problem is getting us in on the process! God’s inclusion of us reveals God’s humility, graciousness, and love. Only inside an economy of grace can we see that God wants free and willing partners. An economy of merit cannot process free love or free anything. “Not servants, but friends” (John 15:15) is God’s plan. Yet to this day, most Christians seem to prefer being servants. Actual divine friendship is just too incredible to imagine.
If we’re honest, culture forms us much more than the Gospel. It seems we have kept the basic storyline of human history in place rather than allow the Gospel to reframe and redirect the story. Except for those who have experienced grace at their core, Christianity has not created a “new mind” (Romans 12:2) or a “new self” (Ephesians 4:23-24) that is significantly different than the cultures it inhabits. The old, tired win/lose scenario seems to be in our cultural hard drive, whereas the experience of grace at the core of reality, which is much more imaginative and installs new win/win programs in our psyche, has been neglected and unrecognized by most of Christianity. People who live their entire lives inside of a system of competing, measuring, earning, counting, and performing can’t understand how the win/win scenario of the Gospel would even be interesting or attractive.
Up to now, Christianity has largely mirrored culture instead of transforming it. Reward/punishment, good guys versus bad guys, has been the plot line of most novels, plays, operas, movies, and wars. This is the only way that a dualistic mind, unrenewed by prayer and grace, can perceive reality. It is almost impossible to switch this mind during a short sermon or service on a Sunday morning. As long as we remain inside of a dualistic, win/lose script, Christianity will continue to appeal to low-level and vindictive moralisms and will not rise to the mystical banquet that Jesus offered us. The spiritual path and life itself will be mere duty instead of delight, “jars of purification” instead of 150 gallons of intoxicating wine at the end of the party (John 2:6-10). We will focus on maintaining order by sanctified violence instead of moving toward a higher order of love and healing—which is the very purpose of the Gospel.
Gateway to Silence:
By grace I am saved.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Things Hidden: Scripture as Spirituality (Franciscan Media: 2008), 156-157, 159, 177.