I didn’t used to get out much. For twenty years I learned grace in a pretty sheltered environment. Now, go figure, I go out and speak about it. I have run into a huge tent of people from all strains of this faith in Jesus, deeply wanting to believe this life in grace. Beautiful people. Some of them are becoming our lifelong friends. They are learning to grow real and authentic, learning to trust a daily life lived in grace, believing who they really are in Christ. And gradually they are finding each other. I really believe nothing quite like this phenomenon is happening at this time in history. It was largely unheard of twenty years ago. From all ages, all socio-economic demographics, all educational levels, they are finding each other, much like the characters in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind.” It is sacred and wonderful to watch it and actually be part of it.
Many of this family are angry. They feel betrayed and lied to by the institutional church, by their parents, by their pastors, by authors, by themselves. They’re angry it took them this long to discover what they should have grown up on. Many of them have given up on anything that looks like a local church; mistrusting that it would ever be possible for authentic grace to exist in one.
They should be angry. They should be mistrusting. But there is a trouble with mistrust. It can globalize. You learn to not trust as a way of life. You can gain knowledge without trust, but you can’t become wise, or discerning or insightful, without trust. For truth comes through the heart. And the heart must allow truth or it is not received. This goes a long way in explaining why so many are deeply intelligent and knowledgeable in the Scriptures but not wise and discerning in the things of God.
A lifestyle of mistrust also costs the next person who comes into your life…and all those who are already there. They never get the real, best you.
And anger ultimately never wins anything. It just eventually makes you too much like those whose dead theology you’ve run from. Grace gradually makes me alive, playful, true, authentic, safe, available, sacrificial, honest-but mostly free-for the sake of loving others.
I get weary of those who are just against what they don’t like in Christianity. I sometimes leave them wondering what they’re for. Sometimes it all just feels smug and judging and superior and hip and too cool. That is not grace-it’s probably more just immaturity. It’s much less important for me to know what convictions you are against than what you are for.
There is a subtle trap we who hold these truths so dearly can fall into. We can turn grace into a theological concept to be “right” about, rather than a living, breathing way of life I get to live with others. We can talk about grace correctly; privately building a compelling system and still not get to enjoy living in grace. If we’re simply switching one theology of the head for another, we miss that grace’s ladder is up an entirely different wall. Grace is a call to a way of life with others that frees love-even to the unlovely.
Finally, I cringe at the language which says, “She gets it,” or “he doesn’t get it.” We can turn this beautiful grace into another system of law, complete with a prescribed set of “grace rules” and buzz words you must embrace to be initiated. We here at Truefaced have coined more terms than a mint, but we have no corner on anything, let alone grace. It will look different in every culture. Everyone matures at their own rate, prescribed by the God of grace.
This is a beautiful time in our history where the prisoners are tired and they can’t take it anymore. They are asking questions. Those who grew up in moralism, legalism and performance-driven worlds are attempting to re-read the Scriptures through a lens of grace. We, full of failure, immaturity and clumsiness have a precious opportunity to take them by the hand into freedom. We want to make sure what they find is more real than what they left.
John for Bill, Bruce and all the gang at Truefaced.