Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Musings of a Happy Pagan (you'll have to read this to understand!)

I always enjoy my Sunday Morning Study Group at First Brandon. We meet during the traditional "Sunday-school hour" for what is generically described as, "Christian Education". We're certainly Christian, and the experience is always educational. But it might be a stretch to lump us in with formal concepts such as "instruction", "schooling" or "lesson".

But it works! We drink coffee (hence the essentially gratuitous photograph), we search the scriptures; we read great material; we pray for God's wisdom and guidance. Each one of us brings an intelligent mind and a thirsty soul to the table. Discussion goes in all directions, and no-one is afraid to share their questions or their doubts right along with their assurance and faith.

This week we were talking about Adam and Eve, and the story of the Garden of Eden. Some take the story as a literal account of a unique incident involving two particular people. Some enjoy the rich texture of a story told to illustrate how humans have chosen to step out of fellowship with their Creator. All of us are thankful that God speaks to us through the truth of scripture... truth that is often (always, in fact) deeper and more compelling than a mere collection of data or observable, verifiable, fact.

The Point:
Anyway, that's not the point of this morning's post! In wrapping up the class on Sunday morning I said how thankful I am for Jesus. It's because of Jesus that I don't have to worry about following the exact letter of The Law, and I don't have to struggle against the constant pressure that I might not be good enough. Jesus has me covered - covered by love. Because Jesus both lived and died for me, I am free to follow The Way of love.

My co-teacher/facilitator Charles made the following observation in response to my testimony about Grace. What he said was tongue in cheek, of course, a kind of oblique commentary on the "Cheap Grace" discussion often promoted by theologians with one foot planted firmly in the Old Covenant.

"The wonderful thing about Jesus," Charles said (I'm paraphrasing, from memory), "is that he came both for Pharisees like me and for happy pagans like you!"

Pause for laughter around the table....

"Here's an idea," I responded. "Maybe I'll get more visitors for my blog posts if I renamed my site 'Musings of a Happy Pagan...'"?

Pagan? There are as many definitions of the word "Pagan" as there are dictionaries to reference. Charles was simply having fun - his usage was more along the lines of pagan/feel-good "Have my cake and eat it too" religion.

The wonderful truth, of course (and, all banter aside, Charles and I concur), is that Jesus shifts our focus away from ourselves, and the law, and the numbing treadmill of religion... and into the wondrous possibility of transformation through a restored relationship with God.

It's because of Jesus that I am free to follow The Way of Love.

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