I’m beginning to notice this trend within and around the church scene where we seem to attempt to bring people in to our church by luring them by grace. We tell them that it doesn’t matter how sinful they are, or what they have done, God still loves them anyway. It sounds wonderful doesn’t it? We try to convince people that grace abounds over their sinful, messy lives. It’s a wonderful message and it works quite often.
It seems though that once someone accepts this wonderful message of grace, it cancels out the message itself. As soon as someone accepts the fact that God’s grace is extended to them we pull back all avenues of grace and fill them with the opposite. We pull out our salvation package with a list of things that they need to stop doing because now Jesus fills that void right? So we tell them not to get drunk, stop swearing, stop doing drugs, stop sleeping with their unbelieving girlfriend/boyfriend, actually on second thought, they should break-up with them because now they are unequally yoked, you should be reading your bible every day, my as well start with John, make sure you are praying daily, and find a bible study to attend, make sure you don’t miss any church services, morning and night service, start tithing and spend less time with your unbelieving friends if not stop hanging out with them all together because you are going to be dragged down. If all these requirements aren’t met within the first week, it’s ok because they are trying. Give it a month and we start to get worried. If it reaches two months then we question their salvation at all, maybe it was just an emotional high, they probably never got saved. By the third month we are praying for their salvation again.
If by any chance this individual continues to attend the church, they are met with disgruntled looks and will probably have to sit down with a few leaders here and there while they are told all the things that aren’t acceptable as a Christian. They are told that following Jesus means giving up everything and that it is hard to be a Christian. They are told that we now partake in the sufferings of Christ and that no one said it was easy. They are told that if they truly love God then they will obey him and here is what he said to do. They will get that out of one of the books of John I’m sure, the first one to be more specific.
It’s an interesting cycle isn’t it? When was the last time you were ‘witnessing’ to someone and you told them how hard it was to be a Christian and all the suffering that is promised along with the call to hate your mother and father and give up everything for Christ? However it seems that grace is forgotten when one reaches the cross. We bring people on this long journey of grace and redemption and continue to love them through their struggles and everything and then when finally they accept it, we pull it away like it never existed in the first place. We trade grace for expectation.
We need to as the body of Christ learn the balance between grace and the call to discipleship. We can’t set people up for failure with all these high expectations to follow Christ and forget the very thing that caught their attention in the first place. Christians need grace too. We are saved by grace and we are being saved by grace. Let’s not allow our grace to diminish just because they accept it and join us, let us extend more grace to other disciples like Christ did and allow God to transform people.