Pictures of Grace

It’s been almost two months since I read this post and it’s taken me that long to begin to write out the impact it has had on me. You should go read it. Right now. And if you don’t come back to read my drivel? Well, that is perfectly fine.

Did you read it? No? Seriously, why are still reading this?!

Go. Now. Click the link above and read it.

Done? Good.

So how do you feel after reading it? Because I have to confess that I had this uncomfortable, Wow-that-was-amazing!, who admits to stuff like that publicly?, I can’t believe she wrote that, I-crave-honesty-like-that feeling all pushed together in the pit of my stomach. The full weight of her words hit me and rolled over and over and over as I considered, not only how I have lived, but how I’m called to live. Called to live personally. Called to live in community. How I am supposed to live as a professing follower of Christ.

It resonated with me because I have been in these conversations. The person who hears and silently judges people for the sins they are struggling with. Who looks down on them in my own arrogance simply because their sins aren’t the same as mine and that somehow makes me better.

Except, it doesn’t.

I also understand because the older I get the more frequently I have been the one uttering under my breath, “You’d be surprised,” as acquaintances unknowingly rail against the very sins that are my weaknesses. I’ve heard the “I don’t understand how anyone could do something like that,” and have bitten my lip to stop from saying, “You’re talking about me.” Or the person who says, “Our pastor said, ‘If a man in my church sins like that this is what I’d do to him.'” Oh. So I wouldn’t be welcome to worship with you . . .

I hope that as I have grown older and as I have grown as a Christian that I have learned to become more compassionate. To realize that we are all alike. Simply sinners in need of a Savior. I hope that I have learned, and will continue to learn to lovingly embrace those in sin around me rather than judge them.

But if all I have taken away from her article is to be less judgmental then I have missed the point. Completely. God is a God of radical, redeeming grace. A God of grace without limits. Yet when we in our faithless faith walk in pride and condemnation towards those who don’t sin as we do, we limit His grace. We proclaim that God’s grace is good for our sins, but not theirs. We erect fences around grace. And when we limit His grace we limit the Gospel.

The Gospel is the power of redemption. This is the transforming reality of His grace. Not that Christ came to make good people better, but that He came to give life to people who are dead in their sin. It’s only when we grasp this truth that we can see how level the playing field of humanity truly is. To quote Luther, “We are all beggars.” And we are.

This is why I love what the late Rich Mullins said, “Let people see your struggles, and don’t ever fake it.” This gets us to the why. Why should we be honest about our sins within the Christian community? Why be transparent about our struggles? Why??? Because when we do, it points to the uncomfortable, amazing, gut-wrenching, transforming grace of God that redeems wretched dead sinners. Admitting our sins, weaknesses, and proclivities to our flesh says to those around us, “God redeems people as wretched as me.” Isn’t this why Paul proclaimed himself the “chief of sinners”? Because Paul had one theme to his life, to make much of Christ. And what better way to make much of Christ than to show exactly how much He has saved us from by acknowledging our sin?

Honesty shows glimpses of God’s redeeming love. Brokenness paints pictures of grace. I forget this. Daily. The powerful truth of the Gospel is not that I am a better person, but that Christ saves me from my sins. That He has taken my rags and given me His robes. He (God) made Him (Jesus) to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him (Jesus) we might become the righteousness of God. II Corinthians 5:21 And that is news worth sharing.

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