Love too much…

A while back I asked Khad Young (one of my favourite bloggers) about a dilemma that I had been pondering (and still do from time to time) as I grow into certain leadership-type roles; namely, how do you present grace to people without mixing it up with permissiveness? I wrote:

I know they’re poles apart, but in reality I’m worried because I’m rubbish at confronting people and usually let my principles slide in order to people-please, for instance if I had someone who…called themselves a Christian but was having an affair or had issues with consumerism or something, I wouldn’t know how to handle the whole ‘should I confront them? should I leave it?’ thing. How have you dealt with this sorta thing?

He wrote a really great reply and then turned it into a blog post, which I’ll reprint here:

How does one show grace without antinomianism? My secret? I would rather show too much grace than not enough. That usually takes me pretty far.

If God calls you into ministry, it will be hard to escape the call. Part of any ministry is going to be doubt and temptation. In my opinion, the biggest temptation you will face if you have not already is to become legalistic. Fight this unto your death. Grace is all we have.

Metamorphosis is not a place for people to come and be “better people” in the sense of obeying the Law and subscribing to a certain morality. I want to have conversations with people, building relationships. That is the entire goal of Metamorphosis: loving and serving God by loving and serving those he has placed around us.

It’s the Father’s job to judge, it’s the Son’s job to save, it’s the Spirit’s job to convict.

It’s not my job to convert, convince, or otherwise cajole anyone into believing anything. I’m just called to love them. As soon as I start judging, the Father wants me to back off. When I think I am saving souls, Christ reminds me He has already done that. If I begin to convict someone’s conscience, I find the Holy Spirit already there doing what He does best.

We are by nature legalistic enough that even when we strive to focus exclusively on grace, the Law comes through on its own. If there ever is a moral dilemma in the group, my friends come and speak with me privately about it. We search the scriptures and pray about it. Did you catch that? They come to me. I don’t preach morality at them. Ever. Maybe that means I am a bad Christian, but it sure means I have a lot of friends who know that I love them and don’t ever doubt it because of my moralizing. I like what C. S. Lewis said:

“A cold self-righteous prig who goes regularly to church may be far nearer to hell than a prostitute. But, of course, it is better to be neither.”

Live by grace and God will give you the wisdom to know when to confront. I find that most often people already know when they are sinning and merely need to know that God still loves them. There isn’t really any confronting to do if confronting is defined as “pointing out their shortcomings.” They know.

Love them.

“I do not treat the grace of God as meaningless. For if keeping the law could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.” (Galatians 2:21)

Be accused of loving too much today.

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5 responses

  1. I’m inclined to agree [to a point]. So naturally, I’m going to bring it right to where I am struggling. To me the central issue relates to lived obedience where rubber meets the road. We all live in various shades of gray on what we hope are black and white issues. Permissiveness has its way of saying “You know, God really doesn’t care what you do” but equally “Trust God” comes with an implicit assumption that people know which voice is actually coming from God. It’s one thing to constantly broadcast the message of black and white as I do not think that this message comes in love. It’s amazing to me the things that are said to general audiences under the guise of “speaking the truth in love.” YET, I also think a central message of love is “You know, we’re in this journey together, at least for a season and I’m overwhelmed that you would make a choice to come to me with these questions. I’m more than willing to pray with you and try to walk alongside you as we listen for God in this situation.” Some questions are particularly hard to discern, especially at the Resurrection where the power of God meets up with sin, death and the devil.

  2. Read too fast. Sorry. Missed the part about dealing with people when they approach.

    Had a moment this weekend where I had morality thrown right in my face against the backdrop of something personal happening where I don’t really know if I can talk with anyone about what is going on to move towards some decent resolution on the question.

  3. I agree it’s absolutely not our job to start going around telling people where we think their falling short. But should we encourage a culture of self-awareness, critical reflection, self-discipline, consensual accountability and true repentance? Absolutely!

    Surely it is a bastardisation of the bible to think only in terms of individual morality or culpability. If we are bound together in Christ we must also be jointly and severally liable. The contemporary white-western Church is desperately in need of a discussion relating to our collective obligations, how do these fit into the Grace.vs.permissiveness dichotomy?

  4. Fantastic insight into a very important issue within the church and outside of it. Something I have wondered about very much too and it is great to hear this discussion. Brilliant.

  5. Pingback: Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaand… « head into the heavens

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