Real Grace

I read in Isaiah 26 verse 10 this morning that though we show grace to the wicked, he won’t learn righteousness; he won’t see God’s glory.

I know it’s popular right now, but I think it’s a dangerous new form of religion, this ear -tickle we hear from pastors, preachers and teachers nowadays. We are told to “just love like Jesus” only they aren’t. They love like men who want acceptance from other men. (Or women) They have created a new set of rules. Rules that men make up and take to church are called “man-made religion” but hey, that’s none of my business. Or is it? Maybe that’s why I write. Because we really are our brother’s keeper to some degree.

Ultimately we are all in the hands of our oh-so-loving Father, but He has graciously invited us to take part in His mission of seeking and saving the lost. Sometimes His sheep get lost, you know? I don’t think this reference to the lost just points to unbelievers.

The church in this brave new world of coffee house Christianity preaches everything but the Gospel sometimes. It’s offensive after all. The Bible freely admits it. The cross: offensive. The word sin: offensive. The name of Jesus: offensive. So we are told to stop being offensive and be inclusive. I’m all for including people. It’s my favorite thing. But to me including someone means inviting them in to what’s there, not accommodating them by eradicating what you have invited them in to- make sense? Like muddy water. Well, bear with me. I have a point.

We believers of the gospel of Jesus are being judged harshly by the world and by our own. (Did you know the meanest people, some of the most manipulative people, are right there in church Sunday mornings? Often right up front. Yes sir.)

The cool thing to do today if you’re a Christian is cuss a bit and tolerate everyone and everything except the Christians that don’t. It’s pretty nerdy to me, but hey…I grew up in the dirty ditches, not an over- evangelized pastor’s kid, so what do I know about the Gospel? Plenty. The author of it saved my life.

What do we expect when we leave our Bibles at home, on a shelf?  Just use a phone app and look up what you’re told to by the preacher. No need to read that whole thing for yourself- after all, that’s religious. (That should be your first red flag BTW)  I’m going to tell you that without the wisdom we need from that supernatural Book- we can be easily led astray. By our own wicked hearts and by the wicked hearts of others. The prophet Jeremiah tells us the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked: who can know it?  God can! (1 Chronicles 28:9, Jeremiah 17:10, Romans 8:27)

So back to the new thing that bothers me: We believers keep hearing how we should be loving and accepting of everyone, that this is grace. The trouble is, I don’t think it really is. The grace of Christ doesn’t leave someone comfortable in their muck. True grace pulls them out and hoses them off, warms them and feeds them. Makes them family. Mere tolerance isn’t grace at all. It’s corrupt and crooked. It leaves people where they are. It leaves them in the dark. It secretly says,” I am better than you and I’m a really good person for pretending I don’t think so.”

We are told that Jesus is the example and that He ate with sinners. Yep and they were sinners who recognized their need. Hungry for more than just what their bodies needed, but for what their souls craved. They were grateful to receive lavish acceptance and grace and became Jesus followers. Just read the Gospels.  Jesus coming into the picture and changing someone’s life radically is so different than us stepping into someone’s life (mess) and assuring them it’s all okay. Affirming them with a current catch phrase; “they are enough”. Because they aren’t. None of us are. We lack and Jesus is the supply. It’s a beautiful thing and as uncomfortable as that makes us, we really do need a savior.  We are.not.enough.

Jesus lovingly showed people their lack, their sin, and headed straight to the Cross to deal with that. We don’t want to trouble ourselves with that. We just want to smile benevolently down and have other  people like us and think we are good and kind like Jesus. Well, I ask you how kind is it to leave someone neck-deep and sinking in quicksand? Wounded and dying on the side of the road, off the path? In a ditch?

Jesus once asked a group of religious people: “what man is there among you who has one sheep, and if it falls into a pit on the sabbath, will not lay hold of it and lift it out? Of how much more value then is a man than a sheep….?”

Jesus places eternal, inestimable value on people, lifts us out of our pits, and patiently heals us. We shake our finger at people trying to get others to see they’ve fallen into a pit. (Because some don’t know -they are decieved or confused) We pat ourselves on the back and tell ourselves and others that we are more loving and grace-filled than those trying to drag out the pit dwellers. I think that right there is a bit of religion. A man-made religion exalting a person’s own perceived goodness.

I reject that.

They say pointing out someone’s pit is mean. Intolerant. Judgmental. Well, it’s all in the delivery my friend. And the motive of course. If love is the motivation and the delivery I call that a rescue mission.

Jesus is still drawing us out of pits, and I pray if you’re a pit dweller, especially of the false love and tolerance variety, that you will humbly take the hand of Mercy and Truth, and let Him draw you out. You see mercy isn’t mercy without truth and likewise truth isn’t truth without mercy. That’s Grace. That’s our Jesus, Who by the way, is the Word made flesh. (John 1:14) So I want all of the WORD I can get!

Take it from me, a sheep very familiar with deep, dark pits. I’m so grateful one of Jesus’  grace-givers told me the truth and pulled me up into the Sonshine.


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