As the twentieth century draws to a close, there appears to be a growing energy crisis – not of energy, which comes from fossil fuels, but of human energy. We are finding it harder and harder to muster the energy with which to tackle and solve the mounting problems facing us.

For example, we have not been able to pay off the national debt or to keep crime under control or to adequately meet our social responsibilities to the poor and the oppressed. In our homes, we are finding it extremely difficult to maintain effective communication between husbands and wives and between parents and children. And in the churches we have not yet been able to make much progress toward reuniting the numerous segments into which we have so long been divided.

We are finding that simply to be told of our obligations has not been enough to get us to act.  Where, then, can we find the energy to do what we know we must do?

I believe that the answer lies mainly in becoming aware of the unconditional dimension of reality. Too many of us seem to know only the conditional dimension — the idea that every relationship in heaven and on earth requires mutual obligations. For everything I do for you, you must do something for me. To people governed by this mentality, it is inconceivable that there is anything for which a person does not have to do something. For such people there is no “free lunch.”

In saying this, I am not saying that there is no place for the conditional. Of course there is! I know that most lunches are not free. But the conditional alone is not enough. What, then, is the unconditional and how does it relate to the conditional?

Consider hurricanes. They straddle water and land as they move along over a continental coast. The half over land is fed energy by the half which soaks up energy from the warm ocean water over which it passes. The half over water is soaking up energy while the half over land is expending it. One half freely “receives” in the realm of the unconditional “ocean” and the other half freely “gives” in the realm of the conditional “land.”

The sixteenth-century Reformers knew well what we are talking about, as did the Apostle Paul from whom they learned the gospel of “salvation by grace through faith.” Grace is God’s unconditional gift to us of His love, mercy, forgiveness, and reconciliation in Christ in spite o/our failures to be what we ought to be. “Faith” is our acceptance of this free gift. The more we accept God’s grace (the unconditional dimension of reality) the better able we are to fulfill our responsibilities in the conditional dimension. The relationship between these two dimensions is what Paul and the Reformers referred to as the relationship between “faith” and “works.” “Faith” which feeds on the free gift of God’s grace obtains the energy with which to do the “works” which our situation demands. God will then have from us what we and all others need most: an unconditional love-commitment to Him in response to His unconditional love-commitment to us in Christ.










OUR NEED for the UNCONDITIONAL DIMENSION of REALITY [Harry R. Fox, Jr.]          1


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