Sorry I’ve been on a Zahl kick the past two posts. I tend to gravitate towards his writings when I’m having a tough time and this week was one of those…
“Why do religious people have a hard time with grace? People come to faith during times of great trouble. Even if they grew up in church or had a religious experience as a teenager, they usually come to faith during a period of trouble. A specific problem in life leads them to question or to look at God in a new way… A time of trouble leads them toward the grace of God. But right after they receive this grace they get punished with the law again. The church punishes them with the law. Here lies the problem an unburied one.
“You could put it this way: The law, the stress of life driving you to a breakdown, reduces you to a walking question mark. The question is answered, amazingly, by God’s one-way love. Grace changes everything. You then enter some form of church or community. At this point, the iron curtain of the law comes down. You are told you need to be ‘discipled’ or ‘mentored’ or ‘coached’: held ‘accountable.” Sermons contain lists of things to do, ‘disciplines’ to take up, a ‘Christian worldview’ to embrace. The law is reimposed.
“No wonder the hymn writer complained, “Where is the blessedness I knew/ When first I saw the Lord?” People become semi-Pelagians the day (after) they become Christians. This is the heart of it.”
Paul Zahl “Grace in Practice“