Contractual Christianity

Most non Jewish believers find themselves entering into the Kingdom of God by way of the well-worn Roman Road. The Roman Road leads to an intellectual understanding of our current standing with God, as well as an acknowledgement of what HaShem did for us in Messiah. This walk through bits and pieces of scripture leads not to relationship but to knowledge.

The result is not the fully human God who was birthed into this world, who we come to know and lust for with our whole heart, but merely a skeletal framework of rational thought. It is an encyclopedia of knowledge, a clear understanding of history. It is acquaintanceship without passion, acknowledgement without relationship.

The Roman Road is presented to believers as a contract between God and man, an agreement which we are to sign if we are to make peace with our Creator.

“If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is LORD and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved, because the word of faith is near you, it is in your heart and in your mouth.”

It sounds simple, if not altogether comforting. These words are being plucked out of context from the book of

Deuteronomy by those who have cut themselves off from the Judaic world-view of Christianity. These words are actually but a small part of a passionate cry from HaShem to His natural children, pleading with them to repent and return to Him for mercy. It is an offer to bring them back from the uttermost parts of heaven and earth. It is not an invitation to enter into a deal that no one could refuse.

Contractual Christianity treats modern believers as renters in the Kingdom of God, not as children in the house of their father. Because there is no demand for fearless honesty, nor any real requirement for heartfelt repentance, many believers walk away from their “salvation” experience with nothing more than what Bonhoeffer calls “cheap grace.”

With little more than a contract with God to rely on, they remain unsure, in their heart, of their standing with the LORD. This is because true salvation is an affair of the heart. Obsessing over every real and imagined sin, they try living by principles. In order to fulfill their part of the contract, they are willing to do anything but face the inescapable truth: “your wound is,” indeed, “incurable.” Nothing less than fully abandoning your own understanding will do. “The just shall live by faith,” cries the Jewish prophet. The just cannot save themselves.

Instead, striving to iron out every inexplicable wrinkle in their soul, while ignoring the emptiness inside, many believers rely on their own efforts to keep from falling out of favor with God. They clutch their contract and cry out

they have done all that is required, even as their greatest fear comes upon them; finding themselves sitting alone on the curb, without the presence of God’s Spirit to comfort them. Living in a refuge of lies.

God responds to relationship and not to need. One look at our suffering world tells us the LORD’s first priority is not to alleviate suffering. Nor is it to reveal Himself as a God, willing and able to give people more than they can ask for or think. That would be a no-brainer. Instead, HaShem painfully and carefully kneads His love into every crevasse of our heart, in order to achieve intimacy with us, the beloved of His soul. In that intimacy, in the heartfelt knowledge of HaShem and His Son, lies eternal life.

That is a task far harder, by any order of magnitude, than simply clinging to the contractural claims of a few scriptures. It is harder for us and it is harder for God. The LORD is not interested in passing out answered prayers so we can avoid the consequences of our fear-based decisions. But that is exactly what most modern believers are seeking.

In order to heal men’s hearts, Jesus calls us tothrow ourselves from the cliff, inviting us to be broken on the Rock of Ages. It is a call to union and intimacy, an invitation to relationship and transparency. It is the inconvenient truth that we must stop protecting ourselves, in order to be made truly alive.

Jesus is not asking you to vote for God. He is not pleading for you to intellectually agree to historical facts or encouraging you to devour as much information as you can about the nature of our Creator. Talking about someone with others or reading their life story is not the same as being in their presence, or having intimacy with them.

To walk in love and embrace truth we must shed every vestige of self protection available to us. We must willingly embrace vulnerability to God and man. We must admit our lack of even the most rudimentary control over our own lives and rely on God with all of our heart. Anything less and we will be left with nothing. Anything less and we will drown.

HaShem compares the relationship He desires with those He loves to a sexual union, precisely because it is in the nature of two humans becoming one that The LORD wants to be one with humans.

“…thy breasts are fashioned, and thy hair is grown, whereas thee were naked and bare. Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold, thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yes, I swore unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, says the Lord God, and thou becamest mine.” Ezekiel 16:7,8

Instead of walking down the Roman Road, stop right where you are. HaShem is either real or He is not. He

either hears you or He doesn’t. While the Word says we will see Him face to face, we must have a real face for Him to look at. Stand before Him, as you really are, without excuse. Now comes the hard part. Dare Him to face you.

One night in a rooming house, suicidal, demon possessed and utterly broken, I cried out to God to reveal Himself. I told Him if He didn’t reveal Himself to me and He was, in fact, real, I would spit in His face when I died.

Evil, cruel, conniving and perverse, I stood before Him, daring to see His face. I invited Him to behold me as I was. Arrogant and furious, with hatred in my heart for all He stood for, I dared Him to show me the face of the Living God of Abraham.

The humble God of Jacob, who created this universe as easily as we hang a shower curtain, turned to me from heaven. Staring into my face, He moved heaven and earth and opened my blinded eyes. Touching my heart with the fierceness of His ever burning, never-ending love, He destroyed the edifice to hell that Satan had erected within me and then, in the twinkling of an eye, forever filled me with His love.