Friday, July 8, 2011

Two Approaches to God

The night before my Grandpa Young died Kathleen and I took the girls to visit him in the hospital. I don't know what inspired our daughter Jessica to do this, but while we were there she got a hold of  a small piece of paper and drew him a free ticket to heaven. Jessica's ticket was a beautiful expression of God's grace to a man who really understood grace and had tried to communicate it through the thousands of sermons he had preached over his lifetime.

One of my Grandpa's favorite authors, and maybe one of the inspirations for his grace filled approach to life, was the late Methodist missionary to India, E. Stanley Jones. According to Jones there are two approaches to God. There is self-salvation where we try and reach God through our own efforts, and there is God initiated salvation where God comes to us and offers us salvation as a gift that we can receive. Jones says the key word for self-salvation is "struggle" and the key word for God initiated salvation is "surrender."

Over the past few days I have been thinking about my Grandpa and the gift of my grace filled heritage as well as Jones' breakdown of these two approaches to God and have been deeply moved. Here's how Jones breaks it down...

Self salvation:
  • is never certain
  • never arrives
  • is self conscious and is a form of religion based upon our own efforts and achievements
  • striving
  • exhausting
  • guilt ridden and ashamed
  • self-condemning
  • depends on the will and constantly needs to be "whipped up"
  • depends on suppression of the spirit
  • exhausts itself on the problems of life
  • looks for a return on it's love and is disappointed if there is no return

God initiated salvation:
  • is certain
  • it helps us know we have arrived
  • is available to EVERYONE
  • is God conscious and based upon "the gift of God"
  • relaxed, receptive, exhilarating
  • non condemning, so it is free, abounding, joyous
  • the will surrendered then given back purified and released
  • our bodies, thoughts and emotions are surrendered and are also given back to us to be expressed on a deeper level
  • based on the inexhaustible resources of God; the more it gives, the more it has to give
  • asks for nothing except the privilege of giving and gets everything in return.
Learning to pray: As you pray and go throughout your day, I invite you to surrender your will, thoughts, emotions, ego, temptation, achievements, actions, self-loathing - EVERYTHING - to God, and receive the free gift of God's love and salvation.