Grace- and how unconditional basic income is related to it
"But each one will receive his reward according to his work. 9 For we are God's workers; you are God's field and God's building. 10 According to God's grace given to me, I laid the foundation as a wise master builder; another builds on it. But let each one see how he builds on it. 11 No one can lay any other foundation except the one that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if anyone builds on the foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each man's work will be revealed. The day of judgment will bring it to light; for with fire it will be revealed. And of what sort each man's work is, the fire will prove. 14 If any man's work shall remain, which he hath built upon it, he shall receive reward. 15 But if any man's work be burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself shall be saved, but as through the fire. 16 Do you not know that you are God's temple and that the Spirit of God dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys the temple of God, God will destroy him, for the temple of God is holy - that is you." (1.Cor 3,8 ff)
Grace: "Chesed (Hebrew: חֶסֶד, romanized ḥesed ) is a Hebrew word sometimes transcribed from chesed . In a positive sense, the word is used to refer to the kindness or love between people, the piety of people toward God, and the love or mercy of God for humanity. It is often used in the latter sense in the Psalms, where it is traditionally translated as "grace." "Kindness and love" Sin: "The word לְהַחטִיא(lehachti) carries the meaning of making a mistake or missing a target." "The phrase "to desinfect the house" is לְחַטֵּא אֶת-הַבַּיִת (lechateh et habait). The same root associated with sin and sin offering. Basically, in Hebrew, the word "sin" חֵטְא (chet) can mean the concept of cleansing!"
"Therefore let us freely approach the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace, and so obtain help in due time." (Hebrews 4:16)
"Then Jesus straightened up and said to her, "Where are they, woman? Has no one condemned you? 11 And she said, No one, Lord. But Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more." (John 8:10)
My dear friends, dear women of God,
As I started this article today, I realized how much anger is in me when it comes to the concept of sin. I can't quite put my finger on what kind of spirit it is that I encounter every time people yell "Repent!" and they decidedly salivate with sadistic glee and absolute smugness at all the transgressions, misinterpretations and weaknesses of their fellow brothers and sisters.
This is always accompanied by total subjectivity.
Far too often, biblical passages are taken out of context, not thought through, in order to emphasize one's own correctness in any case and thus to prove to oneself that one is much better than the other person. Basically, it is not about salvation and about the heartfelt wish that the person opposite should please come close to God again, but about childish, arrogant bossiness - it is about securing one's own, better claim to the kingdom by devaluing the other person far, very far, profoundly and denying him or her any claim to salvation. It is accusation and condemnation, both characteristics of the accuser.
It is a disgusting spirit, to put it bluntly. Insufferable, encroaching, short-sighted, and also a little....stupid. The threat is, "If you don't repent, Jesus will leave you here and burn you in hell!"
No, friends, this is not biblical.
In Germany, for a while, there has been animated discussion of the unconditional basic income-an amount paid by the state regardless of what one does or does not do for a living, whether one is a pupil, trainee, unemployed, or student.
Proponents of this unconditional basic income said it would give dignity and free people from existential fears. They said it was a good basis for letting people truly live according to their talents, and that it would increase, not decrease, motivation to work, improve health, reduce stress, and release joy and creativity.
The opponents were many.
They said it was necessary to monitor and set conditions, because otherwise "Yes, no one would want to work anymore." No one would voluntarily get up and work.... was the tenor. No, without discipline and order it would not work, in no case, money gets, who earns it, and not the lazy riffraff, that would be out of any question!
Another, much quieter counter-argument was that this could not work because the real estate sharks would immediately devalue it anyway. The liberal market economy would already ensure that rents and living costs would rise so rapidly that the well-intentioned basic income would dissolve into nothing - devalued and trampled into the ground. It would make the rich richer and the poor poorer.
It shows me a sad realization:
Dealing with something that is given unconditionally as a base, as a cornerstone- it confuses us. And it brings up different qualities: distrust. Devaluation. Loss of control to be compensated by even more harshness. The demanding and imperious claiming of control over "worthless and lazy people" - and the unbroken will to enrich ourselves at the expense of others. A fundamental devaluation of the unconditional and the rejection of the same. The reversal of something fundamentally appreciative, liberating into something that will only reinforce the bad. And again I encounter the same slobbering, accusing and smug spirit that can scatter nothing but devaluation and hatred. Full of envy, full of resentment and contemptuous selfishness.
The essence of the spirit...well, it is accusation and self-exaltation. It is the spirit of antichrist.
Can grace confront us so deeply that we lash out indignantly? Can a gift, given freely, upset us so much that even the darkest shadows of our personality come to the surface?
Oh yes, it can, and that is what Paul calls the "foolishness of the cross." We cannot indulge, we cannot seek the good, we cannot put aside self-enrichment, and above all: we cannot stop classifying others as a thousand times more despicable and sinful than ourselves. It is grotesque that the unconditional gift of God's love is precisely what our churches are so sick and divided over-because this very grace reveals all our fallenness.
In fact, Paul says that no one will touch the temple of God that we are, and that no other foundation stone can be laid than this unconditional gift of love from our Lord. He is our basic income, our foundation, our salvation. Nothing we can add to this fact, nor can we dictate to our counterpart how to deal with this grace that immovably holds the whole structure together-because no one can lay any other foundation stone.
And the promise stands: We will be rescued from the flames of the burning life's work in case of doubt.
Grace- often, and to the chagrin of many- degenerates into what is called, in Americanized terms, "hypergrace." Yes, there will always be those who live at the expense of others, those who in fact have no motivation whatsoever to put their life's work at the service of another, who "rest" on what they have received and think first and foremost of their own advancement. If we stay with Paul's image, they too are saved, they too have the Holy Spirit, they too have the promise of eternity. Yes, there will be those who will have to face the fact that they have the foundation stone but no living temple stone to show when they are tested-that their straw and fool's gold is burned-while diamonds and gold will pass the fiery test of God.
Yes, there will always be those who enrich themselves at the expense of others, who use trickery and power to squeeze the little out of those who depend on it. There will be those who use dishonest methods for their own enrichment, those who rebuild the laid foundation stone with questionable and strange building materials. They too will be revealed by the test of fire, but they too- will be rescued from the flames.
And then there are those whose buildings are built out of sincerity. Who let themselves be purified again and again, who dig for the right building materials. Who use every pearl they find for the kingdom of God and the building of the house. And who know that perishable straw and fool's gold may create a fast house, but that it will not last.
But what are the diamonds, the precious stones and the real gold that God wants to see?
Love, joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, patience, goodness, faith, self-control.
They are all character traits. He wants us to become loving, kind, gentle, sensitive, patient, forgiving, generous people who believe in Him - and who have mastered themselves and their nature - who overcome their desires. Who are truthful and sincere, and who seek the best for their neighbor.
No, we in our begrudging nature cannot be that. The grace of Jesus confronts us with the shadows within us, the fact of not being able to earn anything and not being able to take anything from the other person makes us feel helpless and upsets our whole desire for domination and control.
And that is why, in addition to unconditional grace, there is a second gift: the gift of the Helper, Comforter and Teacher who teaches us, who guides us and equips us: The gift of the Holy Spirit, the presence of God Himself in our lives.
What do we make of it? Are we ready to be taught? Are we ready to respond to Peter's call, who says: "let yourselves also be built up as living stones, as a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, highly acceptable to God through Jesus Christ!" (1 Peter 2:5ff) ?
You know, it is true that there is no more condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It is true that nothing can separate us from the love of God if we accept Him as our righteousness and His gift of salvation. And that should make us so free and so happy that we are completely relieved.
But there is more to it: by what we do or don't do, we determine right now what our inheritance will be. We have a basic income so that we know we are taken care of. Everything else, my dear friends, is for the victory wreath, for the reward, for what we will be paid with.
Some may have no motivation whatsoever to invest anything in this life to come. They may prefer fool's gold and fake gems. But for me, I want to examine every pearl, and use the best ones to build the temple.
Sometimes I mix up real pearls with false ones. Sometimes...I stuff straw into the house without realizing it, and sometimes I get tired of building at all.
But the builder, the Holy Spirit, He knows that. And that's why it's important not only to see grace, but to recognize grace for what it is:
The right to learn, to be corrected, and to change the way of building with good advice, so that the goal can be reached.
And for this, and only for this, the cross remains in the life of the believer. Because it is grace to recognize false diamonds- and to replace them with real ones.
The next article is about sin recognition, confession and grace.
For it is both- and neither exists without the other: Cross and resurrection, forgiveness and grace. And it is in this tension that we grow toward the one we love: Jesus Christ.
Sibylle/ Daughter of Zion.
Sources: The Bible. Here: Luther translation
Worship: There is none like you Lenny LeBlanc