…But we don’t really mean it.
Just like we say that freedom isn’t really free. Or the free market isn’t really free. Or there is no free lunch. We preach that God’s grace comes free of charge…
…but our grace? That’s another story.
Is it just me, or have we started resembling the chairmen of the Fed. We’re the ones pulling strings, setting interest rates on grace. We decide who deserves it and who does not.
Last week, just about everyone collectively decided that a guy named Andrew from a particular church that had disciplined him deserved grace.
But who are we sending away without grace? Who do we say doesn’t deserve it?
Who Is Notorious?
Some people are just notorious.
Every community has them. Our community of Christians, pastors and bloggers knows who our notorious people are. Over the last week, one pastor from Seattle has been pretty notorious. And the fact is, with every statement that pastor makes, every book he writes, everything he does, he makes himself a bit more notorious with some people. Some people love him. Others cannot stand him.
It will take a lot for some of our most notorious Christians, pastors, and bloggers to deserve grace in our minds.
I admit, I did not show a lot of grace with Monday’s post. I mocked the situation, instead of critiqued, which I try to not make a habit of. And for the first time that I can remember, my wife texted me at work to tell me what I had written was tasteless. If just one of you calls me tasteless, I usually shrug it off. If ten of you say I’m wrong, I feel bad. But five words from my wife can completely crush me every time.
WWJD? Do the Opposite.
Jesus knew who the notorious people were. They were the same people that we have today. They cheat on their spouses. They say stupid things. They have more money than we think they deserve. Their theology isn’t right. They embarrass us as Christians. They are the Marks and Pats and Robs and Teds and Tims of our world.
Jesus knew where to find them.
We avoid them.
Jesus ate at their houses.
We tell everyone we aren’t with them.
Jesus showed them free grace.
We throw rocks and write angry blogs and tell people they have to earn our forgiveness.
The First Time’s Always Free
The funny thing about our grace economy is that the poor really are rich. We are more than willing to heap loads of grace on the poor, the outcast, the disenfranchised the lost. We urge them to come and get some free grace and be saved. Come on, sinners!
It’s like our social justice mentality at work. We want to redistribute all the grace to those at the bottom, the people who don’t have any.
But once you get into the inner circle of Christianity, not so much. Once you become a “middle class” or “upper class” Christian, suddenly, you don’t deserve free grace. You have to pay exorbitant taxes on the grace you receive. Take too much grace, and your tax bracket increases. And no matter how much you pay, it won’t be enough to satisfy some people. Some people will always say you didn’t pay enough for your grace. We’re so quick to forgive the non-Christians who screw up. But you’d better not screw up once you say the sinner’s prayer.
It’s like we’re drug dealers, giving out the first taste of grace for free, just to get people hooked. But once they need another fix, that’s when we can really make them pay. The first time’s always free.
If you are taking Jesus seriously, and his command to pray for your enemies, maybe we need to start inside our own tribe. How about starting with the other Christians.
Let’s close the book on this topic. Who needs grace from you today? A family member? A coworker? A Pastor? A blogger?