Grace always violates our sense of justice. As people we all believe that there must be a ‘just’ consequence for actions, both positive and negative. We expect it and plan for it. When we do something good we expect to be rewarded. When we see someone do something wrong, we expect there to be punishment that fits the crime.
That is one of the great irreconciliable challenges that the Gospel – God in the flesh as Jesus – presents to mankind. Namely that God introduced the world to GRACE.
Grace is not just, it is not fair. At its core, grace honors our identity of who we were created to be. Grace validates our purpose and resonates with our passion.
For many who preach about grace fail to make the shift from theory to practical application. It sounds nice to say that “we’re all broken” and “it’s level ground at the foot of the cross” but when it comes down to it – few really live out a practical application of grace.
Yes, every one of our choices has consequences. We cannot buck reality, nor should we dodge our responsibility in correcting the mis-steps we take. When we make a mess, it is our responsibility to clean it up. I hold a high view of Scripture and believe wholeheartedly that even though we may be forgiven, we all still experience the reality of our choices in the created order of things. Gravity is still real even if you choose to believe otherwise. That said
Grace is messy. It means that the status quo, majority rule, and conformity to peoples sensibilities *might* get somewhat offended.
The classic examples of this are in church leadership polity where leaders differ to “protecting the flock” by correcting, condemning/controlling/evicting the few “sinners” in their midst. It may sound better veiled with words like ‘repentance’, ‘restoration plan’, or ‘church discipline’…but in practice it is really just the leaders passively bowing to fear and covering their backside to manage their image.
Instead of doing the right thing, they do the “safe” thing and impose consequences and legalistic steps to make it appear that they are actively managing the situation biblically. There is a sense of safety in what’s familiar, even if what’s familiar is not good for you.
We all see how well this approach has worked. It’s one of the key reasons the world looks at the church and see’s glaring contradiction’s between the words that we preach and what we actually apply in our lives with one another.
Grace is missing.
What would it be like for church leaders to ask the question, “how can we handle this situation so that grace has an opportunity to be demonstrated?” “How can we navigate these real consequences, responsibly and still “be strong in the grace that is in Christ…” (2Timothy 2:1)?.
Do we view another’s sin as opportunity to demonstrate grace, or do we only apply that expectation to God when in reference to our own sin?
If all people are image bearers (the ‘Imago Dei’) of Christ, then we must trust what Scripture says “Christ in YOU the hope of glory” (see Col. 1:27) and honor that. It is not enough just to give lip service to the “redemptive potential” of a messy circumstance or sin in another’s life. We must step in practically, as grace filled truth tellers and trust that the Holy Spirit will do what needs to be done in a persons life, and our job, as fellow image bearers is actually to treat someone’s sin the same way that God does…
as an opportunity to experience His redeeming grace.
What if the church became known for that kind of practical grace from it’s leaders…