Â Gentle readers,
Lately, I’ve been hearing, in one way or another, and from diverging sources, a single cry, ringing out. Namely, that the Church is supposed to be a family, but too often in America, it has more in common with daycare, a country club, thrift store, pick the business metaphor of your choice. Too many churches today are literally run as non-profit commercial enterprises and mean “when you’re here, you’re family” in the same spirit as the Olive Garden. We have people in the Church today, raised in it their whole lives sometimes, who have no, or little, understanding of the gospel.
The surrounding culture, it’s gone from “there are no boundaries” to “your boundary is wherever you want it to be, and mine is wherever I want it, and we’re both fine as long as we’re doing what’s right for us.”
And the church often responds by preaching this as the gospel:
“Bad news, you were born on the wrong side of the boundary, and are in capable of getting on the side where God lives. Good news, Jesus died to remove the boundary.”
Sounds good at first blush, but listen to what the post-modern soul just heard: “By saying a little prayer, you can live however you want and still go to Heaven.”
The only difference between that and what they’ve already got is the saying a little prayer (plus getting up early on Sundays to get hit up for ten percent of your income) This is a gospel attractive primarily to those looking more for a commitment-free eternity-insurance policy, not a life-changing relationship with a Holy God, and in this proposed transaction, the throne of their hearts rarely comes included.
Jesus didn’t die to remove the boundary, but to make a way for us to cross over it. He nailed our sin to the cross, yes. And as Ephesians 2:8,9 says, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Rather, the misunderstanding comes in with our understanding of grace.
Grace isn’t a static thing where Jesus ONLY accepts us as we are anymore than he’s a far-away-tyrant demanding we do what the bible teaches we’re incapable of in our own strength.
Rather, when we’re born again as the bible teaches we must be, God freely places within us a new spirit–a new heart–one that lives on the right side of the boundary and wills to act in accordance to His will. This is, as the bible teaches, a gift solely of God’s craftmanship. The hitch is we also still live in a body of dead flesh just as wrong-side-of-the-boundary as ever.
Christians, then, live in a state of, “already, but not yet” and at every minute of the day, we face a choice we never had before: whether to walk in the ways of our dead flesh, or in the Spirit, with His grace actively giving us the will and the strength to live in accordance with Christ’s ways. All we have to do is ask, step back, and let him change us.
In His Holy Grace,