4.) Christians have historically thought it better to err on the side of too little grace than too much.
The problem? I say this, not once, not twice, but thrice … grace isn’t a doctrine, it’s a Person. Could it be that the American church has avoided grace because grace destroys our control? Church leaders, myself included, might say we’re protecting “weaker” Christians or newbies in Christ by advocating grace in moderation. I wonder, however, if we’re more afraid of losing power and control?
Without stipulations on grace, church leaders would have no control over things like “salvations” and discipleship plans. Rather than clone new believers by forcing them through our perceived understanding of Christian growth, they would have space and freedom to encounter Jesus.
God always leads his people toward freedom, always. But, we’ve always resisted it. The same is true with grace. We like the idea of freedom from rules until we’re staring this freedom in the face.
At that point, we make up some story about giants in the Promised Land or grace without conditions giving people license to sin. Both conclusions seemingly make sense and fall back on good stewardship principles. If the Israelites entered the Promised Land they would be devoured (so they thought). Therefore, staying put or returning to Egypt (slavery) made more sense.
Many Christians believe grace without stipulations or conditions inevitably leads to disorder and chaos. It’s too dangerous. It jeopardizes the souls of thousands. So we teach Goldilocks grace. Not too much, not too little. Just the right amount.
In doing so we failed to see the other side.
What about the Christians who followed the steps, finished the discipleship plans, then burnt out, fell away or grew cynical toward God because their knowledge-based theology wouldn’t sustain them through real life struggles? What about the “souls” whose eternal trajectories might never intersect the living Christ because they’ve been taught to find him through knowledge and facts?
5.) Works and true Grace have never been in competition.
Building on the previous point, as a young lad I was taught that eternal life is a result of grace and faith. But unless I had works, my faith was useless.
It was almost as if grace and works were (yet another) equation which must equal 100 percent. So, if you’re 80 percent grace, you must be 20 percent works. If 75 percent works, then you must have 25 percent grace.
The resulting sum of these two, however, doesn’t equal Jesus. If you’re heavy on works, light on grace, the resulting sum is self-righteousness. If you’re heavy on grace, light on works, the sum is “I can do what I want because God always forgives” or “I can do whatever I want because I helped at the food pantry this week.”
Both answers suck.