Did that title grab you? The words grabbed me when I first saw them. Each day WordPress tells me the search phrases people use to get to this blog. They aren’t necessarily searching for this blog, but they have a topic and Google directs them here, among many other suggestions. I like to read what people are asking about.
So a couple of days ago I came across these words, “grace as a tool for hate.” What? That is so foreign to me that I find it hard to read. When I learned grace, I learned love. How can anyone connect grace to hate? It is hard to find any sense to these words.
But then I stopped to think about it. Yes, it is certainly possible to use even grace as a pretext for hate. In fact, I can think of three ways someone might see that happening.
First, there is a sense of elitism when we begin to understand grace. I have commented on this in a variety of groups, but most find it hard to acknowledge. Grace people sometimes think of themselves as above those who are “still stuck under the Law.” They believe they have reached a higher plane and they mock those who don’t understand the truth they have found. Yes, some pretty nasty things are said about legalists and certain churches—even friends and family.
What we forget, of course, is that we can’t take any credit for discovering the meaning of grace. If we understand grace at all, we should be able to admit that our understanding is a gift of God’s love. Our prayer and our mission should be to help others understand the incredible message we have learned. No matter how much legalists have hurt us, we cannot hate.
There is no hate in grace.
Second, grace is a popular word today. Legalist churches use it all the time. I remember one teacher who claimed to have the only right interpretation of grace, one that put his people in bondage to standards and rules and laws. The most legalist organizations and people use the word, “grace,” because it connects them with the New Testament. Rejection, shame, condemnation—all in the name of grace.
But that isn’t grace. There’s no condemnation in grace.
Finally, I have rarely seen more hate in theological discussion than what I see between the Calvinists and the Arminians. These two groups came from the same movement just a few hundred years ago, but you wouldn’t know it today. Labeling someone an Arminian seems to allow all kinds of name-calling, rejection, even charges of blasphemy. And, of course, the reverse happens as well.
But the center of that battle is the meaning of grace. Both sides use grace as a weapon and charge the other with its misuse. The Calvinist idea of grace is an abomination to most Arminians; and, again, the reverse is true as well. So, in the name of grace, one man calls another apostate and seeks to remove him from ministry. Not that long ago in church history, people were killed for not believing what the other side believed. All in the name of grace.
But there is no rejection or murder in grace.
Now, I don’t know what the seeker was looking for as he/she wrote those words. It might have been one of these situations that was in mind. It might have been something different. But, I have to say, it breaks my heart to think that anyone could link grace and hate. If that’s you, please respond to this post or write to me through the blog contact page.
You see, I believe grace is “the activity of God’s love.” That’s a definition I have used to explain grace. God has used the message of grace to show me His love and to open my heart to love others in ways I never would have before.
Grace is all about love.