Too Much Grace or Not Enough?
In the recent weeks I have been seeing articles about what the church should stop caring about. I.E: What millennials want, whether we should be discussing topical politics in church, whether the Pastor should have a suit on, Justin Bieber(I stand by him #sorrynotsorry) and many more. However, Grace is one topic I believe will never die out. In my opinion because of our constant need for it. Grace is the abounding forgiveness of God not based on what we do right or wrong for him or anyone else but solely on our faith in Jesus. He will consistently without failing forgive us for anything we have done as long as we chose to repent. But in this definition lies the problem.
There is a movement of hyper-grace where true repentance is not necessary in order to receive Gods grace. Where I can trample on the feelings on the one I love and He forgives and forgets simply because he is a pushover. This is obviously not an appropriate ideology since it stomps the idea of having a relationship with God. Think about it…How on earth would I be able to hurt a person I’m in a relationship with, tell them I’m sorry (with no intention of changing) and continue on doing the same things wrong? It would be an incredibly toxic and dysfunctional relationship. Same goes for us and God. The word repent literally means in the hebrew, to ‘turn around’. So take that at face value.
Then there is the pseudo-biblical ideology of grace. Where we know everyone will fall, and we know what grace is, but we don’t really need it right now. We show grace to others when necessary; however there is no thread of true grace woven into our own relationship with God as father. It isn’t a conscious decision on our part. It seems to be masked as a longing to be super spiritual. Let me explain.
Imagine you are Peter around the time of the last supper (for reference read Luke 22:54) and you just denied even knowing Jesus himself! Jesus warned you to your face that you would do this! You’re embarrassed. Your ashamed. You feel guilty. What do you do? Well if you’re Peter and you see Jesus staring back at you, you run away from him!
That is what so many of us do. We fall, and instead of using grace on ourselves, we run away from God. We misunderstand grace, we think it’s for everyone but us. We are embarrassed and ashamed and instead of weeping and fighting through the crowd to throw ourselves at the feet of the only person who can forgive us, we run away hiding our faces. That is condemnation, not conviction. That is self-righteousness, with pride at the root. And Jesus’ very brother wrote that God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Jesus knew from the beginning that Peter would fail. He forgave Peter before Peter even denied him. Don’t believe me? Check it out:
“Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat, 32 but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” 33 Peter said to him, “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” 34 Jesus said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.”
Look at the italics, in other words: But don’t worry, I got yo’ back! Just be ready to get your bros’ backs once you get over all of this stuff. Cuz big things are coming! (Angel Quiroz Ebonics Translation) All Peter had to do was use grace appropriately. To bounce back and press on towards the goal. That’s what grace is, it’s a trampoline to bounce us higher;closer towards God when we fall and keep us from hitting the ground.
Not using grace can be just as dangerous as overusing it. Which is why we have to know what grace really is. Not a license to sin but a reason to repent. And until we apply grace to every facet of our relationships both with God and each other, we won’t see love and mercy flourish the way we truly need it to. We won’t even see true forgiveness, we will only get fake smiles and “tolerance”.
Peace, Love & Jesus