I’ve heard a number of times that heaven will be a place where those you thought wouldn’t be there would and those you thought would be there wouldn’t. That is the scandal of grace. The grace of God extends farther than you can ever imagine. I’ve said this a number of times in my preaching–no matter how dark the sin, the light of Jesus is brighter, no matter how deep the sin goes, the grace of God goes deeper. And I firmly believe in that. This is the scandal of grace. Jesus came and extended the love of God, the grace of God to all those who were willing to accept it. He reached out to the sinners, the tax collectors, the prostitutes, and all those on the fringes. His love knew no bounds because the love of God knows no bounds.
And then, the scandal of grace becomes abused.
Now, this blog is focused on living spiritually. It is focused on loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. And Jesus’ second command was to love our neighbor as ourselves. This blog tends to be a light hearted look at this. Fun. Enjoyable. I don’t preach politics from the pulpit and I don’t like it finding its way into this blog either.
There’s been something going on for the last little while that’s been chapping my hide. And it’s of a spiritual issue as well.
Last week, World Vision stated that it would change its hiring policy to include committed Christians in same-sex relationships. Social media became a twitter (pun intended) with differing points of views on this subject. And of course, with social media, everyone had an opinion.
Conservative evangelical Christians called foul saying they were going against Biblical principles and progressive/liberal Christians hailing it as a hallmark decision to include all into the kingdom of God. Many conservative evangelical Christians wrongly removed or threatened to remove sponsorship of children and World Vision as a whole.
48 hours later, World Vision reversed their decision. They stated that though they approved this policy change in the name of unity, not taking a stance on the subject but wanting to be unified, they realized that they created disunity within the global church. This led to conservative evangelical Christians applauding them for sticking to Biblical principles and progressive/liberal Christians accusing conservative Christians of theological bullying and taking food away from hungry children. They cited the scandal of grace, that God’s grace extends way beyond our brokenness and anyway, this allowed for others to do God’s kingdom work.
World Vision Canada weighed in on this subject as well. Gay marriage has been legal in Canada since 2005 and they cannot ask about sexual orientation, etc. in their hiring process. Some progessive/liberal Christians state that World Vision Canada has been doing this for some time and no one’s complained. And anyway, they’ve been doing great things for God, why judge them?
The main argument by a number of progressive/liberal Christians concerning this subject and many others that are powder kegs of concern and topics in the church today is that we are to show grace. The scandal of grace is real. I don’t deny that. Yet it is being abused.
I will be the first to admit that the church has failed the LGBT community, big time. There has been hurt, pain, and struggles inflicted by the church. My denomination, the Christian Reformed Church, has struggled with this and continues to do so. They confess and admit that we’ve done many in the LGBT community wrong. And we are currently looking at how we can pastoraly meet, love, and help those in the LGBT community. (For more information on this and the CRC, click here)
In the name of grace, though, some are calling us to accept all things despite what we disagree with. This is done in the name of advancing the kingdom of God.
For years I’ve heard the saying “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Makes sense, right? Love and accept others, we’re all sinners and therefore accept each other despite our sinful nature. But lately I’ve been hearing something else–“Love the sinner, hate your own sin.” In other words, don’t try tell someone about the speck of sawdust in their eye until you remove the plank in your own (Matthew 7:3-5). Makes sense. The problem is, is that this is then used as an excuse to allow people to stay where they are at. Don’t judge others. You don’t know what they’re going through. How dare you tell someone else that the way they are living their life is wrong when you’re messed up yourself. We are messed up broken people trying to live with other messed up broken people.
Yes, Jesus called out to people in the love and grace of God. Yes, Jesus met people where they were at. But he never left them there. He called people out of one way of life into a new way of life. He called people into a new ethic, a new perspective on life. He called them to a new way of living. He called them to go and sin no more, instead to live their lives for God.
We ignore the scandal of grace when we try to force people to act a certain way before we allow them to enter into the church. That’s like saying that you have to get healthy before you go see a doctor. We need to allow people to feel comfortable and welcomed and accepted for who they are. We are to meet them where they are at.
We abuse the scandal of grace when we ignore Jesus call for people to come out of their old life and into new life in Christ. We abuse the scandal of grace when we try to extend the kingdom of God without doing the very thing Jesus did, to repent, to turn from an old way of living into new living in Jesus.
To ignore the scandal of grace is to ignore the love of Jesus. To ignore a call to new life, is to abuse the grace we are to show. This new life we are called into is to be distinct from the rest of the world. To be so different that people see Jesus in us. When we ignore the scandal of grace, we become so different that our light doesn’t shine. When we abuse the scandal of grace, we become so like the rest of the world around us in the name of grace that we loose our saltiness.
Live the scandal of grace in such a way that people come to know the love and grace found in Jesus. Don’t abuse the scandal of grace by allowing people to stay where they are at. We are all called out of our old way of living and into new life in Jesus.