Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Hate the sin, but love the sinner.” That’s a basic building block of grace. I heard it a lot growing up and it never really clicked with me until I realized I was that sinner, guilty of that sin and fearful of being hated. It breaks my heart to stand here now and watch other recipients of that grace berate and despise each other.
No, this is not a typical post, but one I have needed to post for the last couple weeks. There is a fellow ministry in the heat of a nasty battle right now. Watching this has been difficult. Friends I have made within the purity/anti-porn network are getting sucked in and I am watching others jump back. We are all trying to figure out what to do. It is heartbreaking to watch a ministry fall.
If you do not know who they are, I am not going to bother to mention their name. The point is not whatever they did or did not do wrong. The point is how people are responding to them.
Nobody in ministry is perfect.
If you’ve followed my blog for any amount of time, you’ve seen the times I have struggled and failed. There are days when the Accuser of the Brethren screams loudly. He calls me every name in the book– hypocrite, failure, washed-out, worthless. You name it, it has crossed my mind. Every day I need His grace, desperately. We all do.
His grace is given to us without any merit on our part. It is given to us without our asking. It is given to us without discrimination. Why on earth (and in Heaven) do we feel it is our right to discriminate and determine who deserves it? We love to claim promises when they are for us. But sharing those with others?? Not likely.
It’s like spiritual sibling rivalry.
I was reminded during worship last Sunday of the story of the prodigal son. We read that story and picture ourselves as the prodigal son and it just warms our hearts. Amazing grace how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now I’m found, ’twas blind but now I see. Newsflash: Grace isn’t about you.
This has never been about you. You making it about you is why you needed grace in the first place. God, in His grace, in His love, in His mercy chose to save wretched sinners like you and me. This is about Him, not some self-righteous piety that you can wave over others.
We read the story of the prodigal son and fail to realize that more often than not, we are the older brother not the prodigal. We sit in the shadow of God’s glory and grace, soaking it all in and then one of our brothers and sisters in Christ goes rogue. They run away and somehow we feel justified in saying, “Yeah, good riddance!” Then, when God exercises His grace and mercy and love, we get angry.
We completely miss the point that God’s unconditional love is, in fact, unconditional.
We try to put expectations on it. We put our expectations on it. We put our expectations on God and get angry when He does not meet our expectations. Somehow, we feel we are equal to God. We feel that God should be as angry at that person as we are. No.
That’s not how it works. But that’s what we do. When a Christian ‘agent’ goes rogue, we call down fire from Heaven on them, when our Father’s heart is calling after them trying to bring them home.
That is the heart of our Father. It is the heart that runs to meet the prodigal returned home and the same heart that tries to calm the older brother and bring him back inside. That is the heart of our God. I pray that we will learn to exercise that.
One of the most humbling things we can do as Christians is pray a collective prayer. The Lord’s prayer is a collective prayer. Our Father… give us… forgive us… as we forgive… lead us not… deliver us… there is no ‘me,’ ‘my,’ or ‘I.’