Life is the exception… not the rule.
In the spiritual life, we learn much more by honoring and learning from the exceptions than by just imposing certain rules to make everything “fit and work.” The exceptions keep us humble and searching, not rushing toward resolution to alleviate our anxiety.
Jesus had no trouble with the exceptions, whether they were prostitutes, drunkards, Samaritans, lepers, Gentiles, tax collectors or wayward sheep. In fact, most of the Gospels are about the exceptions. What we learn from Jesus is that the Reign of God will be built on how well we accept and embrace and serve the exceptions in this life… not only the people but the circumstances and challenges as well…
The Correct Way to ‘Do Church’
If there is a correct way of “doing church” or “defining salvation”… if… then it is to live and serve the exceptions.
The challenge is that we much prefer universal synthesis… the answer that settles all the dust and resolves every question. Even when that answer is not entirely true, we tend to prefer that over the mercy and grace of God.
Jesus did not seem to teach that one size fits all, but instead that God adjusts to our failures in the moment. We call this God’s providence or compassion.
Every time God forgives us, God is saying that God’s own rules do not matter as much as the relationship that God wants to create with us.
But we humans have a hard time with what doesn’t fit the universal mold. Real and true forgiveness are counter-cultural in this modern age. So we pretend.
We like universal / never-broken / reliable / always-applicable rules and patterns that allow us to predict and control things. It’s just plain easier to deal with. This might be good for science, but it’s lousy for religion. It constipates the Holy Spirit.
paraphrased from Falling Upward by Richard Rohr