Yesterday I talked about our responsibility to be grace wholesalers. So here’s where it gets really sad. If you interview people on the streets, few if any, would associate Christianity or Christians or Church with grace. In fact, people today associate Christians and the Church with the exact opposite of grace. When they think of Christians and Church they think of zero tolerance, of judgment, of condemnation.
In “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” Philip Yancey tells the unfortunately true story about a time a woman went to see a counselor in Chicago and she explained that she was a drug addict. In fact, she had prostituted herself and her two year old baby daughter to get money to support her habit. She had hit rock bottom. The counselor didn’t know what to say. Finally, he asked her, “Have you thought of going to a church for help?” He said, “I’ll never forget the look of shock on her face as she said, ‘Church! Why would I ever go there? I was already feeling terrible about myself. They’d just make me feel worse!’” — When you read the gospels you find that people like this woman, the very “worst of sinners,” were drawn to Jesus. Why? I think it’s because He didn’t make them feel worse, He made them feel loved. And He knew this secret that somehow the church has lost. It’s that love is what turns a life around. The way to change a life is not through pointing out or judging someone’s sin, but through love. That’s why messed up, sinful people were attracted to Jesus – because of His love. But today people don’t associate Christians and church with love and grace, but instead judgment and condemnation.
And that’s so sad, because the one thing the church should major in is grace and because the world thirsts for grace (see “No Perfect People Allowed” by John Burke). People thirst for grace, but grace is unique to our God and to Christianity, and so when churches don’t offer it, it’s just not available. And since it’s unavailable from the church, the world has replaced grace with the cheap substitute of tolerance. Tolerance is a substitute for grace. And it’s ironic, because uptight Christians get all angry and freaked out about how our world is too tolerant, but the reason it’s all into tolerance is because of those uptight Christians who aren’t offering grace. Without grace available, the world had to quench its thirst with something, and tolerance is the closest it can come to grace.
Why don’t churches make grace available? We’ll hit that next time.
Until then, you’ve got to fight for your right to party.
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