The Real Problem With Grace
If you have any sort of access to the internet then you have probably seen and heard of the uprising of opinions and thoughts on this whole thing of grace over the last 5 years.
It has amazed me to see the reaction some of these thoughts and opinions have caused.
We seem to have this need these days to be the most extreme and most controversial we can possibly be. Out of this need we can develop some pretty "interesting" theology to say the least.
I wouldn't normally give much thought to something like this, as even with the most extreme and error filled opinions that some have publicised, I tend to have much the same view as Gamaliel in Acts 5:38-39. He says this when the religious leaders are questioning the Apostles;
"Stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."
When it comes to error and theological flaws, I used to feel the need to be drawn into the argument, I would feel the need to have an opinion. Nowadays, I'm different. Maybe it's just cause I'm a little older and this kind of stuff bores me... What ever it is, I know that if these extreme opinions are of man and not God they are going to fade away anyways so I don't waste any time or mental space on them.
So what really stirred me to write about Grace today was not so much the extremism and heresy that's around - but more the fact that, no matter what conclusion you come to, we have to acknowledge that there is something inherently offensive about grace. By nature it seems to cut across any sense of earthly justice... Earthly being the operative word.
If your like me then you probably grew up with an understanding of grace that was centred around the over looking of wrong doings. Grace was all about not giving someone what they deserved. In essence - Grace was the power or ability to overlook sin.
Grace never held any power to bring change, it only held power to overlook wrongs. Our definition of Grace had been dumbed down to something that no longer held Heaven's power for transformation on it. Instead of empowering righteousness, grace became the term we used to excuse sin. It's this kind of powerlessness that has lead people to develop a completely unbiblical understanding of grace that says, "there is no such thing as sin, do what ever you want." In recent years, this powerless definition of grace has graduated from just "overlooking" sin to actually "justifying" it.
Titus 2:11-12 says,
"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age."
Grace does not ignore, it instructs. Grace instructs us to not simply overlook ungodliness but to actually deny it. On top of that, it goes further and it instructs us to live righteously and godly in the present age. Meaning - Grace is the thing that empowers you to live like the fully redeemed and renewed person that you are in Christ, right here, right now! Grace is not the thing that allows you to overlook the crap in your life or others lives - Grace is the thing that lets you know who you really are. Grace teaches you of your fully redeemed identity and enables you to live in that reality. It reminds you of the things you really enjoy and are interested in. It causes you to explore the fullness of the live you have been given in Christ.
Trying to avoid sin is tiring and incredibly ineffective. When we see who we really are and become completely fascinated with exploring the full righteousness He has given to us, sin becomes so unattractive and distant that it is no longer something we have to justify with a powerless definition of grace.
The real offence with grace is that it transforms us into the person God dreamed of when He breathed us into existence. I have heard people talk about grace and say "grace means I can do whatever I want. I can speak however I want, drink and get drunk, I can fool around with people and treat others how ever I want! Religious people are so offended by my freedom."
The common thread I have seen in these people is that they justify their foul language, judgemental tone and poor choices with a twisted definition of grace and the ones who are offended are just "religious modern day Pharisees."
Here's the deal - sin is not offensive, it's just immature... And to be honest, down right annoying...
The real problem with Grace is that it is INCREDIBLY offensive. Not because it justifies sin but because it brings about transformation. Grace is offensive because it transforms the sinner into the Saint! Grace doesn't ignore the issues in a person, instead Grace fully redeems them. Where Paul was a zealous nutter, filled with religious bondage and hate - Grace didn't just ignore who Paul was, instead it fully redeemed him and used him to change world with the gospel of freedom and love! It was so much more offensive for Grace to transform Paul into a model of freedom and love, using him to unleash the kingdom of God on earth, than it was to just leave him as he was.
Think about it for moment... That person who has hurt you, completely wronged you and treated you terribly. How much more offensive is it to see this person transformed into the God breathed version of themselves? How much more offensive is it to see them step into power and authority and see the kingdom explode through their life? Earthly justice wants them to get what they deserve.
Grace, however, sings the song of transformation over them; a sound that reveals their true nature as a son, as a daughter! A sound that reveals their connection to Father and enables them to turn-in to that glorious reality!
That is the real problem with Grace. When we truly understand the extravagance and extent of the transformation that grace brings we have no need to try and create a "more extreme", powerless definition of grace... (As if we could get more extreme than our Father!!!) True grace is already extreme enough!
Grace brings the God dream to life in you and me.
What is the God dream that He is bringing to life in you?
Thanks for reading, I'd love to hear your thoughts below.