The past four weeks I’ve been teaching a class on the scandalous, outrageous, shame-scrubbing, mind-boggling, spirit-enabling grace of God. It’s diverted me for a moment from this present focus on the missing pieces of the gospel. But then again, the neglect of grace rightfully ranks as possibly the most important “missing piece” of the gospel.
We speak poetically of grace, and offer it in generous portions to our wayward friends. But too often the grace-well dries up about the same time the church door closes behind us. “That was for then, brother. Now we’ve got standards to keep. You gotta work hard, stay sanctified, tow the line, and put on a happy face now that you’re a church member. We’re not interested in your issues, addictions or dirty laundry, and if you can’t measure up, then you’ll just have to either leave or pretend. (Uh… most of us choose to pretend, by the way).
One of my friends recently told me about driving through the rural South and coming upon “The Perfect Church.” No kidding, the sign was right out in front declaring it before God and everyone else. That’s definitely not the church for me. I’m a saint with issues, and I need boatloads of grace every day of my life. I’d be heaps more comfortable in the leaning chapel next door.
If I can move past grace we’ll return to the missing pieces next post.