(We are making the move back to CO and the office, school, church, etc. Please enjoy these posts from the archives. You are welcome to comment as usual and I will respond on the other side.)
A while ago I received an email from a pastor who truly appreciated the grace message but felt that he could not promote it in his church because it would be divisive. He had seen a church split because of the battle between legalism and grace. He asked some good questions. I sent him a lengthy response that addressed several of the things he brought up and carried on a conversation for a time.
The next several posts will be from my correspondence with him, beginning below.
Isn’t it sad that such a wonderful message is divisive within the church? But, you know, it has always been this way. The church, like each of us individually, is “prone to wander.” The church seeks order, control, predictability – and finds these things in rules and standards (or law). The message of grace is about a personal (and corporate) relationship with a living and active Lord who is not predictable, controllable, nor tame. It is far more risky, in a fleshly sense, to simply follow Jesus than it is to have a list of regulations and expectations to follow. For one thing, it takes a real relationship with Jesus and we have not done well in teaching people what that means. How many believers know and hear His voice today? I am not talking about being Charismatic or mystical, just about being one of His sheep. Following Jesus means going to Him with our questions and listening with expectation for His leading. Following Jesus means knowing His heart (very different from “trying to be like Him”) and acting in accordance with His will. Following Jesus means that I take my eyes off the list and actually look for Him.