There is an inherent flaw in the version of Christianity that is focused entirely on grace. Well, there are probably multiple inherent flaws in it, but the one I am thinking of this morning comes out of Sunday’s Old Testament lesson in which Moses is clear that even for God’s chosen people, those whom God had rescued from slavery in Egypt and to whom God had promised a land of prosperity through their ancestor Abraham, life was still about choices.
Despite the hard line often taken by strongly reformed traditions on whichever sin they’ve decided God cares more about than anything else, in a theological worldview that is only concerned with the grace of God, there is actually little, if any, room for consequences. The same sort of theology that created sola gratis underlies Your Best Life Now. It assumes that because one has been washed clean in the blood, there is no room for sin, even though everybody knows that can’t possibly be true.
Moses lays before the Hebrews a choice between life and death, blessing and curses, and God continues to do the same for each of us; especially those of us who claim to follow Jesus. As committed disciples, the assumption shouldn’t be that we can “sin boldly” or “go on sinning” as people have been trying to argue from the very beginning (see James, the Letter of and Romans, the Letter to), but instead that we are called to live by an even higher standard. Our lives are testimony of the Gospel of Christ, and when we make bad choices, we bring curses upon ourselves and the entire body of Christ. Alternatively, when we choose love: of neighbor, of creation, of enemy, we bring blessing upon ourselves and the entire body of Christ.
Grace forgives us our sins, but it doesn’t excuse our bad behavior. As Lent rapidly approaches, it might behoove us to give some thought to how our lives reflect the Gospel of love. The benefit of grace is that we have one more opportunity, in a long life of opportunities, to repent of our misdeeds, to acknowledge the times we have chosen curses over blessings, and to once again choose blessing and life.