You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. – Ephesians 2:8-10
Better mansions for better Christians:
I’m going to share a story. You’re going to laugh; or at least I hope you do. You have to laugh, or maybe cry; because the alternative it to take it seriously, and there’s no way that could be a good thing.
Here’s what happened. A bunch of Christians fell into conversation about heaven. At some point, someone mentioned that Jesus had said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions” (John 14:2).
What ensued, apparently, was a lively discussion in which several people put forward the belief that there is going to be some kind of mansion hierarchy in the life to come, where some people will get bigger/better/nicer mansions than others.
In other words, a tiered system.
I’d like to go on record as saying that the only entrance qualification any one of us will ever have for life with God is grace. It was grace when we accepted God’s gift, it is grace now, and it will be grace in whatever fashion we experience the life to come.
I understand that Christians disagree regarding many things. But if we were honest we’d have to admit that we’re all wrong a lot of the time. That’s why we’re constantly asking ourselves hard questions, listening to one-another, changing our minds, amending constitutions, and generally making a straightforward Gospel into a complex system of confusing and often self-contradictory doctrines.
But we can all agree on our need for grace. There is no way we could be so presumptuous as to point to our standing with God and say, “Look, I did that!” Instead, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus, “We are God’s accomplishment.”
Then – and this is a remarkable passage – I ran across the following words yesterday, when I was doing some research for something entirely different. The quotation comes from Titus Chapter Three (My dad turned to it a couple of years ago, quite by accident, when he was in a meeting where people were vilifying, denouncing, and condemning a Church they disagreed with).
Do not get involved in foolish discussions about spiritual pedigrees or in quarrels and fights about obedience to Jewish laws. These things are useless and a waste of time. If people are causing divisions among you, give a first and second warning. After that, have nothing more to do with them. For people like that have turned away from the truth, and their own sins condemn them. – Titus 3:9-11
It’s obvious that the Gospel calls us to unity rather than lockstep agreement. Just as grace irons out any suggestion that some of us may deserve a “better mansion” than others.
Discussions about spiritual pedigrees are useless and a waste of time.
Work in progress:
I may be wrong about a lot of things, but we all are; we are works in progress. God looks at me and – rather than “face-palming,” scratching his head, or opening the trap-door and waving goodbye – God says, “Sweet! another one of Jesus’ friends.” I am welcomed, embraced, and loved; I am redeemed.
God does not accept me because I am good, or right about stuff, or American, or Presbyterian, or Baptist, or straight, or gay, or doctrinally flawless, or generous, or really good about following rules, or anything else that I might be proud of.
Instead, I am saved by grace; I am God’s accomplishment.