When You Think You Have To Earn Grace
I've always been a task-oriented kind of person. Assign me a task, and set a deadline, and I'll get some stuff done... you can count on it. And if there's no one to give me something to do, I'll assign myself tasks and set my own deadlines.
Sometimes, I assign myself too many tasks and set unreasonable deadlines, but let's not dwell on that for the moment.
There's this sense of satisfaction that I get when I am hustling and checking things off my lists that is hard to beat. But I'm a pretty terrible supervisor for myself.
I will often look back on my day when I get to around 5PM and if I haven't completed enough tasks, I'll either begin berating myself for being a slacker or make myself work overtime.
And there's no one to complain to because I'm also the HR representative for myself, so any complaints won't really get very far. Even if they did, I'm also the CEO of myself, so there's that.
Let me tell you something just between us---the CEO of myself is a real piece of work. I can't stand that guy sometimes. He has this idea that the more things I can get done, the better I'll look, and the more worthy I'll be.
I've driven that metaphor about as far as it can go. But there's a ton of truth in that for far too many of us, am I right? And worse, there are more than a few of us who apply this same kind of philosophy to our life of faith.
No matter what we say we believe about God's love and grace, we turn God into some sort of dour Accounts Receivable department head who is always checking the ledgers and giving us grief for not measuring up.
Then we live our lives always feeling like we're not ever good enough. We become trapped in a hellish kind of office cubicle life with a dead plant on the desk, a trashcan full of Doritos bags, and a stack of work that never seems to go away.
Here's the thing... God doesn't work like that, not by a long shot. And we can be set free from that way of thinking and living if we are willing to embrace the grace that God freely gives to us out of love.
Fr. Richard Rohr writes extensively about the perils of living a life of faith that turns God into a ledger-keeper. Instead, he employs a vision of God as a Divine Locksmith, longing to set us free from our self-made prisons:
Grace is the secret, undeserved key whereby God, the Divine Locksmith, sets you free from your self-made prisons and merit-badge mentality. It shows itself as radical forgiveness—of reality in general—and then forgiveness of each individual thing—for not being perfect.
Have you fallen into patterns in your life where you think that doing is more important than being? Have you created an image of God that is never satisfied, an image of God that demands more and more from you in order to earn grace and love?
If so, I want you to hear this... That god doesn't exist. In fact, the only existence that god might have is in your own head, constructed by you, voiced by you, and perpetuated by you.
It's time to fire that image of God. In keeping with the whole office-based theme of this Devo... Give that image of God the walking papers that it so richly deserves. With no severance. And an escort out of the building, holding nothing but a box of junk from a desk.
Because you were meant for more than a merit-badge, ledger-based kind of faith. You were meant to live an abundant life, full of hope, joy, and love.
May it be so for you today and every day and may the grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you now and always. Amen.