“But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
It is always amazing to me how many people don’t believe Paul. And it is usually those who most quickly proclaim their faithful obedience to the Word. It was the problem of the Pharisees and is still a problem today for many. They believe vehemently in select passages of scripture, but readily ignore others.
Paul teaches again and again that we are saved, made alive, and accepted as we are. We are made alive “EVEN WHEN we were dead in transgressions”. Our transformation into the likeness of Christ happens after we are convinced we are beloved and accepted, not before. So why are so many so convinced that we have to live lives of obedience before we are acceptable to God? Oh, we don’t say it, but we sure act it out. We behave like nobody sinful is acceptable to God until they admit they are horrible, beg Him for forgiveness, and agree to not sin again. But this ignores most of Paul’s teachings and Jesus’, too.
Think of Zacchaeus. This criminal is invited to dinner with Jesus, or actually invited to host a dinner for Jesus. Table fellowship was one of the most powerful statements of belonging in the ancient Middle East. And our outrage at this is not unique – the Pharisees mocked Jesus as “a friend of tax collectors (the worst traitors of the day) and sinners” because He ate with them.
Can we accept people into our fellowship, our lives, our circles while they are still unrepentant sinners? Can we stop excluding people who disobey the bible, understanding that their metamorphosis into Godly people will come later and is up to God, not up to us?