Saturday, January 05, 2008

Why I Left the Republican Party, but Didn't Become a Democrat: The Grace Awakening

Some people say the Sermon on the Mount cannot be taken literally. Why do they say that? They say it is because it tells us to lead a life that is impossible, that is too high of a standard to actually live out. I say all things are possible with God. This is my story.

Although it could be said I became a Believer in junior high (depending on one's theology of justification), the Spirit finally budded in me at the end of my undergraduate days at Arizona State University. I praise and thank God for enduring with me; for being long suffering; for His endless grace. Shortly after this great transformation in my life, I began reading Scriptures for what seemed to be the first time. I also engaged in reading Christian inspirational books for further edification.
The Sermon on the Mount is still my favorite section of the Word. It is hard to put into words, but imagine how the life and words of Jesus shattered my worldview as the Spirit moved in my life. These are the words I read....

"Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God"

"You have heard it said, 'An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.' But I tell you not to resist and evil person. But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also."

"But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven."

"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven."

"If anyone desires to come after me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me."

"If you want to be perfect, go sell what you have and give to the poor."

"'Vengeance is Mine, I will repay', says the Lord. Therefore, 'If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.' Do not be overcome with evil, but overcome evil with good."

I kept reading words like this, from the inerrant Word of God (I only scratched the surface of available passages). My worldview began to change. I began questioning long held views of this life I led. I began to see that this world that Jesus lays out for His believers to follow was distinctly, overwhelmingly different than my ultra conservative, Republican world.....

Then one night while at work, I picked up a book during my break called, "Grace Awakening", by Charles Swindoll. Something clicked that night as I read. I was moved, so moved that I wrote all of my friends about what God was doing in my life. Though I do not have the book anymore (I gave it away to a friend), I can still recall its contents even though I read it 7 years ago. Here is the idea Swindoll conveyed about grace....

Imagine this: A thief breaks into your house one night. Among stealing some of your livelihood, he also steals a part of you as when he kills your only daughter. There are three ways one can react to this scenario:
-Revenge: Realizing what the thief has done, as you catch him, you give him what he deserves, and kill him.

-Justice: Realizing what the thief has done, as you catch him, you turn him over to authorities to deal with and he is held accountable for his actions.

-Grace: Realizing what the thief has done, you give him what he doesn't deserve by forgiving him. You even extend grace upon grace and invite him over for dinner.

I don't do Swindoll's version much justice, but you can see how this shattered me. I finally realized through this illustration what grace is all about. Because the fact is that we are all the thief that comes into God's house. We are not worthy of Him, yet He forgives us as we sin against Him, as we put His Son to death, and even invites us over to dinner at His table. Amazing stuff.

Though much of this entry has to do with my personal walk with God, and not much about politics, the one obviously influenced the other. My Walk changed how I viewed life and the world around me. The way of Jesus stands in stark contradiction of the Republican platform, as well as the Democratic. Now you have seen what transformed me, what spark started this road down which I traveled.

Next, how this played out practically in my political views and life.....