MORE GRACE

There are a lot of things that as Christians we are supposed to be against, I suppose.  We're supposed to be against things like abortion, and gay marriage, and premarital sex, and drugs, and cursing, and transgender bathrooms, and I guess democrats. 

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The truth is, it's hard to keep track of all the things Christians are supposed to be against. I've tried to find a list in the Bible. I found one instead that said this - 

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience." (Colossians 3:12).  

Interestingly, it seems like Paul, the guy who wrote that list, knew we'd have trouble with it.  It's like he knew that it would be tempting to notice when the people around us aren't living up to the list, so he goes on to say,

"bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone.  Forgive as the Lord forgave you." (v13)

It's true, Jesus was certainly against some things. There were definitely some things that really bothered Him, and there were even things He took a stand against. What's most interesting to me is that the things that really got Him worked up were usually the faults of the religious leaders, not of the sinful crowd. 

The problem with the list of things that the religious leaders of today often come up with for us to be against, is that it's all about what's wrong with the "sinful crowd."  I remember reading Jesus' command to the woman who had been caught in adultery, when He tells her "go and sin no more." Jesus definitely was against adultery, but I don't think it's insignificant that He says this to her only after He had literally saved her from being stoned to death.  

Before He said anything to this member of the "sinful crowd," He dispatched with every single member of the righteous brigade that was ready and waiting to execute their personal brand of religious rule enforcement. The religious leaders were against not only her sin, but against her.  

Jesus certainly wasn't for her sin, but the difference is that Jesus was FOR her.

In fact, it seems to me that Jesus was "for" a lot more than He was against.  As I read the Bible, I find a Jesus who was for compassion. Quick aside, it's not an accident that the very first words used by God to describe His own character to Moses include the word compassion (Exodus 34:6).  It's the first thing He says about Himself.  

Jesus was for abundant life.  He was for forgiveness, and for truth.  He was for holiness.  He was for love.

But mostly, Jesus was for grace.

Grace changes things. It changes things now, and it changes them eternally.  Grace is the pathway that allows us to be forgiven and experience eternal life. Grace is the oxygen of relationships, which is why it's the foundation of our faith. Without grace, we would have no relationship with Christ. It's precisely because of the grace He extends to us that we are able to be in relationship with Him.

It was grace that moved Jesus. It was grace that motivated Him to heal. It was grace that motivated Him to embrace those who had been rejected. It was grace that motivated Him to raise the dead. It was grace that found him at a dinner party with a bunch of society's worst - a sinful crowd. It was grace for us that moved Him step by step towards the cross.

It's also grace that allows us to experience the beauty of relationships here on earth.  It's the pathway that allows us to forgive and experience community. Grace is what allows us to sit down and share compassion with those who are different. Those who disagree.

Grace is what reminds us that our value doesn't come from our positions, or place of birth, or job, or status. It reminds us that it comes from what was done by the one who is for us.  It comes from our identity in Christ - which is the result of, well, grace.

Imagine what a little grace might look like in your life, in your family.  Imagine what it might look like in your conversations on social media (yikes).  Imagine what it might change about your relationships at work, or in your marriage. Imagine what it might change about the way you are raising your children. Imagine how grace might change the way you think about that person you disagree with, especially the one that's a Democrat.

As Christians, we are called to be for grace.  We are called to be for far more than we are to stand against. If you are a Christian leader, you are accountable for what you are for. If the only thing you are for is pointing out what Christians should be against, I think you're doing it wrong. 

Don't get me wrong, personal holiness is a real thing. Sin is a real thing. But the Gospel isn't a list of what to be against, it's a story of grace. The Gospel compels us to share that story - and that grace - with the world around us, even when the world around us makes us uncomfortable. Even when the world seems to be against everything we believe. Even when the world around us is broken. Even when it's surrounded by a sinful crowd, or maybe Democrats.

(Just to be clear, I like plenty of Democrats just fine, but it's saying something that many Christians would much rather spend time with a sinful crowd than with a crowd of Democrats.)

Grace allows us, actually it commands us, to be for each other. That's something we could all use a little more of right now because there are a lot of things that need changing, and grace changes everything.