Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Party's On

I've been saying for a long time that we Christians need to relearn how to celebrate. God, after all, is a party-throwing God. And apparently, if the Gospels are to be trusted, we're all invited to the party. Yep, all of us: Me, Mike Wittmer, Pete Rollins, what's the guy's name who delivered the inaugural prayer...um...him, Bishop Spong, Ted Haggard, James Dobson, The Farting Preacher, and even that old curmudgeon Dissidens over at remonstrans.net.

That God is as promiscuous with his love and grace and mercy as the Bible makes God out to be makes some of us a wee bit upset, I know. But look: this whole bloody, awful, beautiful, confusing, depressing, delightful life and world history is going to climax in a party of universal proportions. Well, that's what the bible teaches anyway. And that's worth getting excited about. Isn't it? That's worth practicing for. Isn't it?

Well, I found someone else who who has been captivated by the image of this party-throwing God on a universal mission of reconciliation, healing forgiveness and celebration. This is how he puts it, and he puts really well:

Religion #1:

God is mean, angry and easily provoked. From day 1, we’ve all been a disappointment, and God is–justly–planning to punish us forever. At the last minute, thanks to Jesus stepping in to calm him down, he decides to be gracious.

But don’t do anything to mess that up. Peace is fragile around here.

Religion #2

God is gracious, loving, kind, generous and open-hearted. He rejoices in us as his creations, and is grieved that our sins have made us his enemies and caused so much brokenness and pain. In Jesus, he shows us what kind of God he is and restores the joy that should belong to the children of such a Father. True to his promises, he will bless all people in Jesus, and restore the world by his resurrection victory.

You can’t do anything to mess this up. God’s got his heart set on a universe wide celebration...

...
We have far too many people selling religion #1. Like the Pharisees, they are the authorized representatives of the grumpy, ticked off, hacked off, very, very angry God who MIGHT….maybe, MIGHT let you off the hook….MAYBE…..IF–and it’s a very big IF–you manage to believe enough, obey enough, get the theology questions right enough, find your way to the right church, follow the right script and get the details right, down to the last “amen.”

...We have far too few Christians who are overwhelmed at the news that God has fired the bookkeepers, sent home the bean counters, dismissed the religion cops and bought party hats for the grumpy old people. The big announcement is this: In Jesus, we discover that God is just sloppy with his amazing grace and completely beyond common sense when it comes to his love. Just to enhance his reputation as the God who know how to throw a party, he’s inviting all of us back home, no tickets necessary, no dress code, for a party that will last, literally, forever. With open bar, and all on him. (Oh calm down Baptists. You can go to another room.)...

...The Father will have his party. Even for the undeserving kid who doesn’t quite get it. Even for the Pharisee-wannabe who is horrified that dad’s not cooperating with the system.

God will be gracious. God will be good. God will be overflowing in love. God will be good to the world. God will bless the nations. God will put his lamb and his Spirit and his loving face at the center of a universe made over in the image of the greatest wedding bash/banquet you could ever imagine...

...Your ticket to this event will most certainly NOT have a denominational name on it. Nor will your seat at the table be determined by your church or your theological team. The grace and goodness of God is going to erase all the lines, boxes, definitions, fences, dictionaries, sermons, announcements and pronouncements ever made. Your Biblical interpretations won’t amount to a hill of beans. God himself, and his good grace, will be the star of the show...

...God’s gracious face makes our religion fall apart. It takes away all our soapboxes. It shuts our mouths, because none of us deserve it and all of us can have it. God’s love and grace are so far beyond our ideas of what they ought to be that none of our ideas about God can survive the good news that comes in Jesus. Jesus is a salvation, grace, goodness, God revolution...

...Let’s stop it. Let’s stop hiding the face of a gracious God. Let’s show it, sing it, worship in its light, live as if we know that gracious, glorious God as the one the Bible proclaims and who comes to us in Jesus.

Let’s enjoy the face of a gracious God. Now and forever.

Preach it, brother! Preach it again! And then preach it one more time! Let's all of us preach it, try to live it and then practice for it. Practice for it? Yes; practice for it. How? By throwing some parties of our own in anticipation of the one that's coming. (First, though, I've gotta kick this sore throat.....)

(You can read the original post, by imonk, in its entirety by clicking here.)

10 comments:

Megan T. said...

This idea does make me uncomfortable. After all, I've been RIGHT for so long! The thought of those who got/are getting it wrong being allowed into the party crumbles my carefully built pedestal of self righteous theological ideas right to the ground. What do I have left to stand on?
Perhaps this pedestal needed to be knocked down. After all, the foundation was causing the support beams to rot anyway, since it was made of rotten holier-than thou egoism in the first place.
As the sore backside of my bruised ego sits upon the pile of broken pedestal remains, what am I to do? Do I dare believe this? Do the directions on the tube of God's grace really say "Apply liberally to affected area, several times a day, as needed?"
Does God really have the tendency, like a five year old, to spread way too much grace peanut butter on the bread slices of our lives?
If so, this must mean he accepts me, too. If he accepts Them, then he accepts me- no matter how many times I go to church, no matter whether or not I remember to pray or think of Him, no matter how many tiny (or big, for that matter)things in life I feel guilty about.
Do I dare believe he accepts me for me, that he doesn't keep track of every little thing I do, say, or think? I do, berating myself for something I said yesterday, last month, or fifteen years ago. Maybe if I suffer enough over the things I've done, I will become holy. Are you saying that he doesn't rewind and play tapes of my failures on the big screen of his mind like I do on mine?
I don't know- that's just too much. That's just too scandalous. Perhaps this is the scandal of grace, the scandal of true belief. Perhaps this is what Kierkegaard meant when he talked about the leap of faith.
Well, I'm on the edge- toes pointing over the abyss, but have no interest in freeing my tight grip on the guardrail. It is safe over on this side of the canyon. Jumping is for beans.

Christi said...

okay Kev. I'm almost cured of this devilish illness. But you name the place and date and I'll be there, probably with some veggie-tastic dish in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other (I owe you:). Maybe we need some party hats....hmmmm.

Kevin Corcoran said...

Megan T:

(-:

Christi:

You got it, sista! I'm thinking of a U2 listening/watching party next weekend in anticipation of the great banquet at the end of time...and the release of the new album early next month. Until, then, how about a meal on Saturday? (-:

Anonymous said...

No problem with this post, except for the gratuitous, unnecessary, reference to the Pharisees. Please keep in mind that, as far as Jews are concerned, the Pharisees not only saved and transformed Judaism, they also recognized and emphasized the gracious love of God. I realize that you're using "Pharisee" as a metaphor, and probably don't have real Jews or actual Judaism in mind. But it really is time to put that particular metaphor to bed.

Thanks.

Keith DeRose said...

I also saw & liked that post. (I posted a link to it on facebook.) In the comments, iMonk says he's a "near universalist" -- which is nearly right, by my lights. But I guess that, in the end, he thinks you *can* do something to mess this up, at least if you try really hard. But enough picking at small differences (like the eternal fate of a few of God's children!). I did really like this comment iMonk dropped on 27 Jan 2009 at 7:02 pm iMonk:

****************
This has been the most bizarre and discouraging conversation on the subject of grace I’ve ever had. Were it not for a hope in near universalism, an utter confidence that God’s grace will overwhelm my sorry excuse for faith and an ongoing belief that Jesus will win over every enemy, I couldn’t take a step in this Christian life.

If I’m overly optimistic, overly hopeful and overly impressed….sorry. If I need more wrath and fear to keep me in line, I’m out of luck. If I need a system where I cooperate with God, then I’m out of any reason to be a Christian.

It’s all of nothing. Grace or condemnation. Jesus does it all or I’m sunk.

If your version of Christianity is a cooperative venture between grace and works, then you are a better Christian than me. Frankly, you’re a better Christian than I even want to be. I can’t imagine what there is in this Christianity business beyond the complete mediation of Jesus.

Anonymous said...

How does God deal with sin?

Keith DeRose said...

On the cross, right?

Just take the answer to how God deals with the sins of those who are saved, and the universalists answer to how God deals with sin is that, eventually at least, everyone is saved and so that's how God deals with everybody's sin.

Kevin Corcoran said...

Hey Keith,

Really nice comment by imonk there. And I guess my own answer to Anon is this: by becoming incarnate in Jesus and by suffering, dying and being raised. That's how God deals with sin.

I don't know if the first Anon is identical with the second, but in any case, and to the first, I did not use the Pharisees as a metaphor for anything. The bulk of the post was from imonk. And the parts I quote only mention the pharisees once, near as I can tell.

themethatisme said...

I really have problems with this. Whilst I would not dissent in my head with any of the assertions about Gods Grace I just am not a party animal. I am usually borne down with bouts of illness, depression, in a crap job, struggling for financial survival, overworking in voluntary capacity, dealing with the idiocies of my extended family, to party. If God really wants me to celebrate why doesn't he make the music a little better? That is of course rhetorical but even when I do go to the odd earth bound party, I much prefer standing in the kitchen re-arranging the vol-au-vents and engaging in conversations. I ain't going to a heaven which is wall to wall rave space and no kitchen.

Kevin Corcoran said...

theyouthatisyou,

P-R-I-C-E-L-E-S-S!!!!
'nuff said.

(-: