love, grace, slaves, and the evolution of God

I was chatting a little last night with my home church about love and grace and how we have seen an evolution of that in the church

(small tangent: this is why I love home church. I love talking about God and the way that the idea or God impacts my lived life. I love talking about how as I understand God more it shapes how I live more. My deeper understanding calls me into deeper action and accountability and I work that out with people who think different than me and push me. You should get into a community if you’re not in one yet).

A 100 years ago it wouldn’t have been odd to think of a member of the black community as less important or not even a person. It was Christians in England who promoted that your treat your slaves with respect when the rest of society wasn’t.

Read that again.

Not that you stop slavery but that you treat your slaves with respect.

But our understanding of love and grace and how God wants that expressed has evolved and changed. Change to the point where we don’t believe slavery is right and a black person is just as valuable as a white person.

We think we wouldn’t have done it, “if I was there I would have known slavery was wrong.”

Really?

So much of what we do and how we live is created and crafted by our society and we don’t even recognize it. We talked about how time in Canada is different. You need to be punctual and exact and careful with your time. But there are all kinds of cultures where time is more fluid.

When I was in the Dominican doing some work on a school they would say that the guy with the cement is coming after lunch. He might show up the next day and no one thought that was weird. It was just a different way of seeing time and it was a learned system.

This static time is more of construct than we might want to think.

We were taught that it’s rude to be late and being on time shows respect. But what if we weren’t taught that? Would be really just act that way? No.

So what does all of this mean?

Well I was pondering what the world will think in 100 years from now. What will they look back on and say “how could Christians with the same bible we have and the same God talking them not see that _____ is ridiculous and not what a God of love and grace would want?”

Because that’s what we’d think about someone in the past, 100 years ago talking about treating a slave appropriately. Not abolishing slavery and treating everyone as equals in love and grace. Nope, just be nice to your piece of property.

But they didn’t even see it. They were taught that you must be on time because its rude to be late and that’s just how it is. They didn’t even see the system or that it was oppressive and not in line with God.

And you and I are doing the exact same thing. We are living in a system, conducting activities that smart, loving, Godly people will look back on and say “how did this happen?”

How did the church not take a stronger stand on the environment. How did they drive those horrible cars that destroyed our earth?

How did the church not take a stronger stand on capitalism, a system to exploit the weak? How did they participate in it?

How did the church…

I think this idea of our faith and understanding of God in the temporal context has huge impacts on how we live. It impacts how we love and share grace with everyone we know.

Over the next few posts we’re going to look at a few important groups and see how we, in light of this temporal perspective, show love and grace.

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