I love Bart Campolo. I’ve seen him speak several times and he never fails to make me think. He’s also controversial, as you can see from this video. Not only does he reject penal substitutionary atonement, he’s also a universalist; saying God is compassionate enough to seek the rescue of every one of his children—and he’s powerful enough to pull it off. In the video, he says that if Jesus didn’t come to die (and I don’t believe he did), then He came to talk about something else, i.e. grace. I want to take that further; not only did He talk about grace, he practiced it and He expects his followers (us) to do the same. The question is then, how do we do this?
This is not an easy question because, if you’re going to do this whole Christian thing right, grace is easy to talk about but not so easy to do. Grace requires us to think about others before ourselves; to forgive those who hurt us; to love even those who want our utter destruction. Human nature, however, encourages us to put our needs first, to hold grudges and to return pain for pain. So, how do we change this? How do we live grace in our daily lives?
I’m pretty sure I’m the least qualified guy to answer this question. I say that because living out grace is something I struggle with on a daily basis. There are people who would have you believe it’s like the flip of a switch. That once you make the choice to follow Christ, everything is easy and you’ll know peace and tranquility. Maybe it is for them, I don’t know. What I do know is that, for me, there is damn little “peace and tranquility” and loving my neighbor requires massive daily effort.
I don’t feel peace because I look around and see my brothers and sisters hungry and living outdoors. Tranquility escapes me because I see children of God reduced to begging on the street for what amounts to crumbs in the most affluent nation in the world. How can anyone feel peace and tranquility when humanity seems bent on self-destruction through violence, materialism and the ruination of the planet? As for loving my neighbor, every time I decide to work on that, it seems my neighbors go out of their way to be as unlovable as possible.
As usual, I’ve gone off on a tangent. The question at hand is how do we live grace in our daily lives? If the two previous paragraphs tell us anything, it’s that we can’t as individuals. I think it’s only possible with the help of God and those around us. God, for the strength to love the unlovable and those around us as examples and partners. Kind of a “pay it forward” thing. I think that’s what the Gospel is really all about.