fair usage allowance

9 07 2010

I am on an unlimited broadband contract with BT. They supply me with broadband, which is unlimited. I got an email through my unlimited broadband connection telling me that my unlimited broadband usage had exceeded the limit. Because of course they have a fair usage policy that limits their unlimited broadband in order that customers do not have unlimited access that limits others. It wouldn’t be… fair.

limiting the unlimited

This is not a dig at BT, who rescued me after my Tiscali debacle and thus will always be my friend. I am fully aware of the limited usage policy. And I can see why. We humans have an innate sense of fairness. Too many bytes from you means fewer bytes for me. I am as worthy of byte space as you.

It got me thinking about grace. Grace is unlimited. Isn’t it? I mean, it”s unlimited for… nice people. For… good people. Jesus is happy to extend an unlimited welcome to people who understand him, people who have been taught about love and truth and honesty. Don’t we get a bit more uncomfortable when  grace becomes unlimited for, you know, them. People who only know how to show you love by craving your attention which they do by breaking stuff. People who have never been taught to be polite and tell the truth and that you are loved because of who you are and not how many times you can be shouted at or bully someone or talk about sex. People who break your stuff and your heart and you forgive and they forget and then do it again tomorrow.

I understood Jonah the other day when Shane Hipps from Mars Hill explained the the Ninevites to whom he was sent were the despots, the hedonites, the most evil people imaginable especially if you were a Jew. They forced inter-marriage to weaken the ethnic purity which led to the Samaritans; they razed to the ground whole towns and cities of those who rebelled. God called Jonah to tell them to repent and be forgiven. There was no way Jonah was a) going to start a rebellion in Ninevah and b) give them a chance to repent. No way. Do you not know who they are, Mr Yahweh? They are evil. They are outside of your grace. They must remain that way. There is a limit.

unlocking the door to grace

We must not become guilty of thinking like this. No matter how many times we must forgive, no matter how many times we must start from the beginning, no matter how angry or irritated we want to become. God’s grace has wonderfully beautifully and extremely annoyingly permeable boundaries. As permeable as the broken window at church I boarded up last night. I must have missed that course at vicar school.

His fair grace-usage allowance is not fair, because he just keeps on giving. It offends our innate sense of fairness. Good. So we must keep on giving. Not to be doormats, but to be doorways. May we be doorways to grace. May I be a doorway to grace. Amen.


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2 responses

9 07 2010

If only God gave his grace first to people I like and then gave any left over to the others, then (my) world would be a better place. But he doesn’t. It seems to be randomly distributed. So he takes people I find irritating and frankly morally reprehensible and gives them massive jobs. Some, frustratingly, do well and make an enormous contribution to society, others go off the rails (told you so!).

He doesn’t seem to punish those who do much more wrong than I have (or at least different things than I have, that I consider worse. So I try to construct a theology that says, “OK but he will get them later on the day of judgement” but I can’t find a basis for that in the bible however hard I try.

God isn’t fair and thank God for that because if he was where would I be? So why do we spend so much time trying to theologise fairness? I need to be unfair too, by loving everybody and being as open hearted and generous as God is, even when they throw stones through your windows, climb on your roof and pick fights with other people.

I think that is being a doorway to grace, but I am sure there are other doorways too. Any suggestions?

10 07 2010

Doorways to peace, doorways to non-violence, doorways to forgiveness, doorways to hope… doorways to respect, doorways to compassion, doorways to life…

As opposed to doorways to hopeless defeatism. Those doors are wide open. But we try to push them closed…

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