Every once in awhile I hear somebody question our commitment, or maybe it’s just my commitment to be against sin. The questions arise from a variety of sources in a variety of forms. Sometimes the questions come like this, “Is Calvary way too heavy on Grace? Have we given up preaching truth? Are we lukewarm? Do we shy away from challenging people because we are afraid to offend them? Have we become so seeker friendly that we are sin-friendly?” Sometimes I don’t hear questions, I just hear statements. “We want to go somewhere that teaches more on foundational topics like sin, the holiness of God, and hell.”
So I’ve been thinking about this lately — thought I would put some semi-random thoughts down in print.
1) I will always take it as a compliment when someone wonders if Calvary is too heavy on grace. I love grace. I live for and by grace. I love the fact that there were people in Paul’s day (as in Apostle Paul) who thought he was too heavy on grace. I grew up in a church that was light on grace and heavy on laws and the traditions of men. That’s not Calvary. Calvary is called to be a safe place for people to seek God, a people who will celebrate the fact that mercy overcomes justice.
2) At the same time I do not believe in cheap grace. Read Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s book “The Cost of Discipleship.” It’s one of my favorite books on living by grace. He says words like,
“cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.
“costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
You’ve heard me sound the call for costly grace lately when I have said things like, “You cannot follow Jesus without leaving something behind.” It’s also behind the call to seek a “holy calling instead of a hallow calling.” It is a motive behind every call to generosity.
3) I am convinced that our greatest sins are not the sins of commission, they are the sins of omission. Our greatest sins may be less the bad deeds we do and more the good deeds we fail to do. My preaching reflects that. In the parable of the talents Jesus called the man who buried his talents and did nothing — wicked.
4) If you are not familiar with true Christianity, this may come as a shock to you, but..
True Christianity is not simply an invitation to become a better person. It is not primarily a program for cultural reformation. It is not a political party. Nor is it simply a get out of hell free card. It’s an invitation to live the life you’ve been
seeking by connecting with Jesus and receiving his grace.
5) I do believe in truth. Grace is one of the truths in which I believe. I do believe that sin is bad, but I also believe that mercy overcomes justice and the kindness of God leads us to repentance. I believe that the only way we can be truly seeker-friendly is by becoming an enemy of sin and a champion of grace. I love to challenge people with truth to be known as a people of radical love.
May Amazing Grace ever be our song.