Let me start by reiterating the fact that our beliefs and theology are greatly molded and formed by our own experiences. This is a universal truth, and it is why I am a strong believer in unconditional, unmerited grace. Because that's what I've experienced.
Most Christians I know would say that grace is unmerited and that it has nothing to do with us. However, there always seems to be stipulations. Usually right beliefs, saying a prayer, or repenting is necessary.
All of which are conditions no matter how you slice it.
When I speak about unconditional grace... That God loves and accepts you no matter what you do or believe... I usually get the same response and concern... that people will take advantage of that grace and live however they want to.
However, I just don't get it, for that has not been my experience with grace.
When I realized and came to the understanding that I could live however I wanted, sin as much as I wanted, and God would and does still love me and accept me... It changed my life.
I didn't go wild. I didn't rebel. And I didn't live like hell just because I no longer believed in hell.
I did, however, fall in love with God.
I no longer pretended to love God. I no longer felt like I had to believe in certain doctrines that made absolutely no sense to me. And i no longer felt guilty if I missed a church service or two (or more). For I was doing all of those things out fear of what God would do to me if I didn't "walk the line" so to speak.
But it was all fake. Sure I could quote scripture, ramble off doctrinal nonsense, say the sinners prayer every night before bed just in case, and even put together a mean Sunday school lesson, but it had nothing to do with how much I loved God. It was the result of how much I feared god.
Then at some point in my life Jesus saved me from all of that. No, I don't remember the date and time, for it's a daily thing for me... And no, I don't always "know that I know that I know". But Jesus saved me from "having to be a Christian".
I love Jesus, not because I fear what God will do to me if I don't. In fact, I want nothing to do with that god. As some wise author once said... "I love God because God first loved me", and I have experienced that love and that is what keeps me coming back for more.
I have caught a glimpse of the grace of God and it entices me to give others a glimpse of that same grace. To try and live out the same grace and forgiveness that I have been given.
For Grace and love changes people more than fear, guilt, and coercion ever will.
So let me tell you what I discovered not too long ago.
God loves you. God accepts you.
Accept that you are accepted. Live like you've been forgiven. Believe that you are loved.