Do we get why grace is amazing? Because it frees and heals broken sinners.

English: Amazing Grace, First version, in &quo...

English: Amazing Grace, First version, in “Olney Hymns”, on page 53 (bottom), 1779 Français : Amazing Grace, début de la première version, parue dans le “Oleny Hymns” (1779) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devotional/Discussion Thought of the Day….

 8  Yes indeed, it is good when you obey the royal law as found in the Scriptures: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 9  But if you favor some people over others, you are committing a sin. You are guilty of breaking the law. 10  For the person who keeps all of the laws except one is as guilty as a person who has broken all of God’s laws. 11  For the same God who said, “You must not commit adultery,” also said, “You must not murder.” So if you murder someone but do not commit adultery, you have still broken the law. 12  So whatever you say or whatever you do, remember that you will be judged by the law that sets you free. 13  There will be no mercy for those who have not shown mercy to others. But if you have been merciful, God will be merciful when he judges you.  James 2:8-13 (NLT)

“When the church meets sinners with hate, condemnation, and a lack of mercy, we deserve the persecution that we encounter. When we treat “their sin” as somehow more defiling and vile than our sin, we deserve persecution. For then all we are doing is beating up those who are blind, deaf and in captivity.  When we are persecuted for trying with all the grace of Christ to reconcile sinners to God, then this is praiseworthy, not praising us, but the One who empowers us to endure in grace.”  (facebook comment)

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me….I once was lost, but now I am found, was blind, but now I see!  (John Newton)

In the past day, my facebook feed has been filled with much emotion, and to be honest it reminds me of a schoolyard ball game.  Some are so jubilant in their “victory” that they have gotten in the cyber-face of those they think wish them ill-will.  Others are so dejected in their loss, that they claim the end of the world, as they prophesy of torture and persecution.  The posts of the first enflame the latter, the reactions of the latter are used to justify the former.  I probably hid no less than 100 posts, sickened as I was by the reactions of both sides.

I did respond to one or two – and the italicized words above are part of my response.  A response which will possibly infuriate both sides of the argument.  (normally I pride myself on being able to do this, this time, I only grieve that it is possible.)

Sin is sin is sin is sin.  It doesn’t matter which sin it is.  James point that out in the quote from His epistle above quite clearly.  And yes, I hold to the position of scripture, that sex outside of a marriage between man and woman is sinful.  But it is no worse a sin than gossip, or murder, or white lies.  James makes that clear as well.  

But that is where I think we get the mission of the church very confused.  The church is not a place that is primarily engaged in behavior modification.  It is not our raison d’etre, the focus of our being the church.  For if that is our existence, we are failures, and will always be so, just looking at who is within us, never mind the rest of the world.   Behaviors will modify, but that is a role that is God’s alone, and it doesn’t start with legalism – it starts with love, His love, poured out on us.

That is why I wrote what I wrote.  As the church, our voice should confront sin, but only in the hopes of pouring out the forgiveness of God.  Apologetics is not about proving that sinners are lost and condemned to hell, but why I, the chief of all sinners, ( or at least in contention with St. Paul over that title) can have hope in spite of my sin.  We are to bring healing to all those broken by sin, and take special care with those that haven’t yet realized they are broken.  That is why I wrote that there are times – especially yesterday, where our reactions surely deserve any persecution we receive.  Because we are not looking to bring healing – but our reaction is one of fear, of anxiety, of condemnation.  Because of that we are rightfully judged, and to be honest, I am less worried about the world’s condemnation in that case, than of God’s.  We’ve taken His mission – and corrupted it. 

If we believe what we sing in Amazing Grace, do we realize the very people we are reacting to are where we once were?  Wretches that are lost, blind, in bondage to sin?  Do we realize that our task isn’t to brutalize them but to bring them comfort?  Do we bring them God’s love, do we go to them with the intent of showing them mercy?  Do we dare to do so in a way that leads to peace?  Are we willing to be patient with them, as God is patient with us?  Do we realize that we have been, and are as broken, but also realize the healing we have in Christ Jesus?

Some hard questions these days bring to those who trust in Christ… but the questions need to be aimed at our actions, our words, and how we will serve those broken in heart in spirit. 

Lord have mercy on us all.

 

About justifiedandsinner

I am a pastor of a Concordia Lutheran Church in Cerritos, California, where we rejoice in God’s saving us from our sin, and the unrighteousness of the world. It is all about His work, the gift of salvation given to all who trust in Jesus Christ, and what He has done that is revealed in Scripture. God deserves all the glory, honor and praise, for He has rescued and redeemed His people.

Posted on June 27, 2013, in Devotions and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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