Monday, August 02, 2010

That's Too Much Freedom

Freedom is still a shocking thing. People usual believe grace and freedom for either themselves or others more. What I mean is that you fall into one of two camps: the first believes that God loves and forgives them more easily than other people; the second believes that God more easily forgives others than themselves.

When I was in college there was a guy named Mike who lived in my dorm freshman year. Mike was one of the resident assistants who were meant as mentors, guides, and rule enforcers. Many times I found him in his room, on his knees, praying to God. At the time I struggled mightily with lust and pornography and found Mike's heart something to aspire to and another way for me to feel that I wasn't quite where I should be as a follower of the Rabbi. Guilt.

A few years from that I worked at a church where- during one of my first staff meetings- the senior pastor had us meet in prayer once a month and we would pray for hours. I secretly dreaded it and felt like a like a heathen who couldn't concentrate during a two-hour prayer vigil at 23 years old. Guilt.

Not long ago a good friend of mine- after years of ministry with a holiness denomination had a near-breakdown and went to a counselor. After only a couple of sessions the counselor observed that much of his stress came from the fact that he, "believed in grace for others so much more easily than himself". Guilt.

Because so often we want believe that others are, in fact, much better people than ourselves. Their thought lives, actions, words, language, and motives are purer and further along in maturity...

Or perhaps we struggle the other direction. Some of us believe that because of the code we hold that others- especially those far from God- are not really as good as us. We have done the right things the right way- even and especially when we did not want to- and because others do not hold to our code they just are not as good as us (I mean if we were super honest about it). They just aren't as sensitive to spiritual conviction, authority, or scriptural reading.

Maybe my most disturbing conversation about all of this was between me and another pastor. As we discussed issues facing evangelicals over the next years I observed, "What if we just told people that if it's okay by what is biblical and what Jesus says and does then they can as well?"

My friend looked at me with the straightest of faces and said, "That would give people too much freedom."

The offense of the news of Jesus is two-fold: one, the claim Jesus is the only way your sin gets taken care of; and two, that- in many respects- the wild freedom of truth that claims the amount of "good" or "bad" you do simply doesn't matter when it comes to the issue of salvation.

Grace is offensive and unsafe. The workers in the field who worked for one hour and those who worked for the whole day both were payed the same wage. It isn't fair, thank God. How can we claim anything else?

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