From: The Grace Awakening
The moralizing and legalizing of the Gospel of God’s Grace is a dull heresy peddled to disappointed people who are angry because they have not received what they had no good reason to expect. (Richard J. Neuhaus)
There are killers on the loose today.
The problem is that you can’t tell by looking. They don’t wear little buttons that give away their identity, nor do they carry signs warning everybody to stay away. On the contrary, a lot of them carry Bibles and appear to be clean-living, nice-looking, law-abiding citizens. Most of them spend a lot of time in churches, some in places of religious leadership. Many are so respected in the community, their neighbors would never guess they are living next door to killers.
They kill freedom, spontaneity, and creativity; they kill joy as well as productivity. They kill with their attitudes far more often than with their behavior. There is hardly a church or Christian organization or Christian school or missionary group or media ministry where such danger does not lurk. The amazing thing is that they get away with it, day-in and day-out, without being confronted or exposed. Strangely, the same ministries that would not tolerate heresy for ten minutes will step aside and allow these killers all the space they need to maneuver and manipulate others in the most insidious manner imaginable. Their intolerance is tolerated. Their judgmental spirits remain unjudged. Their bullying tactics continue unchecked. And their narrow-mindedness is either explained away or quickly defended. The bondage that results would be criminal were it not so subtle and wrapped in such spiritual-sounding garb.
This day – this very moment – millions who should be free, productive individuals are living in shame, fear, and intimidation. The tragedy is they think it is the way they should be. They have never known the truth that could set them free. They are victimized, existing as if they are living on death row instead of enjoying the beauty and fresh air of the abundant life Christ modeled and made possible for all of his followers to claim. Unfortunately, most don’t have a clue about what they are missing.
That whole package, in a word, is grace. That’s what is being assaulted so continually, so violently. Those who aren’t comfortable denying it have decided to debate it. Similar to the days of the Protestant Reformation, grace has again become a theological football kicked from one end of the field to the other as theologians and preachers, scholars and students argue over terms like frustrated coaches on opposite sides trying to gain advantage over each other. It is a classic no-win debate that trivializes the issue and leaves the masses who watch the fight from the stands confused, polarized, or, worst of all, bored. Grace was meant to be received and lived out to the fullest, not dissected and analyzed by those who would rather argue than eat. Enough of this! Grace must be awakened and released, not denied – enjoyed and freely given, not debated.
Grace received but unexpressed is dead grace. To spend one’s time debating how grace is received or how much commitment is necessary for salvation, without getting into what it means to live by grace and enjoy the magnificent freedom it provides, quickly leads to a counterproductive argument. It becomes little more than another tedious trivial pursuit where the majority of God’s people spend days looking back and asking, “How did we receive it?” instead of looking ahead and announcing, “Grace is ours. Let’s live it!” Deny it or debate it, and we kill it. My plea is that we claim it and allow it to set us free. When we do, grace will become what it was meant to be – really amazing! When that happens, our whole countenance changes.