You don’t have to look too far on the web to find people who have issues with me. “He quotes people who aren’t Christians,” they say. And if you want to criticize me on this blog, I’m not going to delete you. Criticism can be helpful and hey, it keeps me humble. But a critic’s life is lonely and graceless. I have been a critic and a cynic and it’s no way to live.
Some folks are so focused on being self-appointed “protectors of the truth” that they miss Jesus’ point. Jesus, quoting Isaiah, said he came to set the captives free.*
Freedom from what? Gracelessness for one thing. Phil Yancy calls it “ungrace.” Grace is what most distinctively sets Jesus’ followers apart from other human beings. Doing good to those who mistreat you is so counter-intuitive that Jesus calls it a “narrow road” that not many can walk on. He describes this grace-path in his very first public talk.**
The Islamic path of jihad or the Crusader’s path of holy war is the more natural way. If someone is different or a threat to your belief system, just hurt them – they are diminished and you, as the defender of the truth, are ascendent.
You can see the people who are not walking on the narrow road by the way they live. Jesus describes seven kinds of graceless people:
People who have to be right, always arguing.
Fault-finders who talk about other people behind their backs.
People who have a sour, negative spirit.
People who perpetually criticize.
LEGALISTS who haven’t graduated from the Old Testament to the New Testament.
We used to be this way, but then Jesus set us free. He says if we’ve been set free, then we are free indeed. You know you’re a Christian not by some words you repeated or your attendance record at church. You know it by the fruit of your life – grace.
Does grace characterize your life? Swimming in grace is a great way to live. Today is a good day to repent of the right-and-wrong thinking that leaves you never measuring up. And don’t just repent to God – repent to someone who needs more grace than you’ve given them. Dive into freedom. Dive into grace.