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.
8 thoughts on “Ranting about grace (a quick detour from “missing pieces”)”
I love it! Great post!
Probably the greatest “missing link” of the gospel is the subtitutionary and completely sufficient atonement of Christ for sin. Paul was proud to proclaim in his letters that he was known of nothing to those he lived amongst but the cross and Jesus crucified.
Don: I understand what you mean at the end, but the idea of getting past grace is scary, even if that is not what you meant.
BTW: Thank you so much for Brother Baxter Kruger. Wow. The Undoing of Adam!
Write On, Brother.
You win the prize David. I knew what I was saying, and was wondering if anyone would pick up on it. We never grow out of grace, do we?
I think you are absolutely correct. I think grace “flows” even more slowly, even to a trickle, when one is on a church staff. I think that can be one of the most dangerous places for a believer. I’ve seen some of the most gentle and beautiful brothers and sisters abused and beaten down verbally and emotionally. I’ve always thought that a ministry staff/leadership team should be one of the most meaningful, prayerful, spirit-filled and spirit-filling experiences in the Church. But I’ve rarely seen it actually happen. I’d love to hear your comments on this, Don. Blessings!
I’m not sure I want to move beyond grace. When I’m beyond grace I’m on my own and that is a bad place to be. I know that’s not what you meant, but I was struck by the phrase.
In Hebrews 6, we are exhorted to “leave” the elementary teachings about Christ, repentance, faith, baptisms, laying on of hands, resurrection, and final judgment. I am certain that the writer of Hebrews did not intend that we leave these things behind. Perhaps he was telling us simply that there is more to growing into maturity in Christ that leads us beyond these “elementary” teachings of the faith. Come to think of it…when I studied trigonometry and calculus, I never stopped needing my addition skills! I love the dialog around your posts Don! Always provoking and engaging.
I think you are correct Sean. Paul also speaks of the church as being built on a foundation, the cornerstone being Christ and the teaching of the apostles, the gospels and epistles we have today. They instruct us where to build, and how to build it. Jesus said that we should be careful where we build- whether on a rock or on shifting sands because trouble will come. “Everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a fool…”
By the grace of God we are not fools.