Thursday, August 5, 2010

Cheap Blessings and Cheapened Grace - A Rant

OK, look out, here comes another rant. And this one is likely to really get the hairs on your neck ruffled.

This one is about some of the "well meaning" stuff I receive in my email.

They seem to end with something like this:


Pass this to 12 people including me. A blessing is coming to you in form
of a new job, a house, marriage or financially. Do not break or ask
questions. This is a test. Does God come first in your life? If so, stop what
you're doing & send it to 12 people now. Watch what he does!



Really? Do you believe this nonsense?

This is the Joel Osteen-style Christianity that sells books and keeps people's email full of empty hopes and promises. The "If I do, then God will " type of non-biblical Christianity. The type of Christianity that is so shallow it doesn't work. It is a Laodiceian-type of Christianity. Or form, but no substance.

What is the biblical basis for something like this?

Do we really pray to God and do things in his name to have him reward us like Santa Claus?

God blesses us in so many ways that we never even appreciate--and then we cheapen our relationship with Him by playing a game like--if I send this to 12 people then he will give me the desires of my heart!"

Really, come on!

He has already given us the greatest gift he could give us--through grace we have eternal life. We did not earn it by sending an email to 12 people. We were given it because His Son died for us, while we were still sinners and certainly did not then nor even now deserve it.

And then to top it all off, He blesses us every day and lavishes upon us things we don't even know we need, until He makes them known to us.

And so our response to this is to send little email messages to our friends promising that if they do this, then God will do that? I wonder if this is some of what John was writing about to the church of Laodicea in Revelations 3:14-22?

Emails that end like this, with the "If you do, then God will" promise are really missing the mark.

We are not going to heaven based on our works, 'cause we can't do enough to pay the price. And we certainly are not going to get there by sending emails to other Christians encouraging them to send emails in order to receive blessings.

Ah, some might say, it is a way of letting unbelievers hear of God. Really? How many of those emails really go to unbelievers. They are not even designed to go to people who have never heard of the Living God. And if one should be sent to an unbeliever, do we want them to learn of a god who seems to be little more than a purveyor of incantations? There is a lot more they need to learn--like starting with, you feel guilty about something you did way back when, let me tell you what our God did for you, already!

It is that old problem again--we think we need to do something to earn God's love.

Wrong! We can't earn it.

It is tied to the age-old question about works. We can't do enough to earn on our own what was freely given to us already by God. Why would we want or need to?

It's free. Accept that.

We must, however, reflect in our lives and the way we live how God has changed us from the inside--but it certainly should not be tied to doing little deeds with the expectation of receiving earthly rewards. And as a result of our joy, we do things (works) which confirm the faith we have.

We already have the reward--eternity.

I guess when I read emails that end with the action and the promise, I hear the televangelists at the end of the broadcast pleading, like so many politicians who have been coming to my door lately, "send me money and God will . . . "

God will anyway. Just ask.

The alternative to these emails?

Here is a thought.

I have felt that the stories that come in many of those emails are great and uplifting. Some are just fun to read. So delete the ending, the "if you send this to 12 people and me . . ." part.

Change it to a simple blessing to your friends--something like: I saw this and thought you would appreciate it. I'm thinking of and praying for you today.

A simple blessing.

That's what we all really need more than anything else. A reminder that we are loved by God and others.
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