Question: Doesn’t Grace Make You Lazy?



Anonymous asked:

Does Christianity encourage laziness? The whole concept of Grace you often speak about lets people off the hook too easily. The Bible says faith without works is dead and Jesus said all trees that bear no fruit will be chopped down and thrown into fire. The reason people are so lazy and under-motivated is because they are always told they’re some special person while no one really is all that special. So how does telling them God loves them help deflate their ego?

 

So occasionally I get questions like this that make me wonder: Do you really care what the answer is?  Are you trolling right now?  Are you baiting me into a trap?  Have you ever struggled alongside real hurting people? Are you teachable enough to see where you went wrong here?

Christianity encourages laziness just as much as atheism provokes genocidal baby-eating evil — which is to say, you can take any issue and spin it the way you want, and you end up with a simplified straw man that makes ya looks so smarts.

This is a “deconstructive reductionism,” like when movie nerds reduce a movie plot into a laughable writer’s room. It doesn’t add to the discussion, at all.

I love you bro and I say this knowing we might just misunderstand each other: but you’re probably taking the Grace of God and reducing it to a parody of itself, which I would reject too: because it’s not really grace. 

 

Still with me?  Grace is not so much any one action or rule or attitude, but grace is more of a story about broken people being loved and healed.

Let me tell you about my first pastor.  When I first came to church over ten years ago, I was a stubborn thick-headed horny atheist who was looking for hot Christian girls.  I hated the sermons but I kept coming back: because there was something about this pastor.

He endured with me.  I asked him tons of annoying questions about God and the Bible, but he answered them patiently.  I screwed up a lot: I slept with a few girls in the church and confessed them all, but he never flinched.  He called me and texted me when I never replied.  He bought me lunches, dinners, books, and sent cards to my house.  He spent hours praying for me.  He never once lost his temper with me.

Over time, I realized how much of a jerk I was to him.  I didn’t listen; I was late all the time; I got drunk and went to strip clubs on Saturday nights before strolling in hungover on Sundays; I hardly asked how he was doing.  BUT: he was endlessly loving.  And the grace of this man completely melted me.  I’ve known him now for thirteen years, and there’s no way I could be the person I am today without him. 

I remember small moments.  When one day I was horribly depressed, and he wrote me a letter right in front of me.  When I got out of the hospital from swallowing a bottle of pills, and he listened without judging.  When I was sobbing hysterically one day and he gripped both my hands and told me, It’ll be okay.  God still loves you and He will never stop. 

Even now, my eyes glisten and my heart swells at his sacrifice.  His grace fundamentally ripped away my selfishness and disturbed my ego.  I deserved nothing and he gave me his all.

 

You get it, right?  Out of gratitude, I came to love my pastor: and I realized I would do anything for him.  When you love a person, nothing is off the table.  And when you realize this person loves you back no matter what, you will be alongside them for eternity.  There’s an endless freedom and security there found in nowhere else.

But why was my pastor this way?  Because of Jesus.  It all pointed to him: and as much as my pastor loved me, Jesus loves us infinitely more.  I began to understand that grace is a love-relationship, a journey, an adventure, a story of a restless human heart who can only find wholeness in Christ.

That’s why grace is an enduring narrative that never really ends — because it will always be about a big picture filled with little moments, instead of a principle or philosophy or theology.

 

If this bothers you: well it should.  No one naturally likes grace.  It feels too easy, and certainly some people think they can abuse it.  But grace in and of itself can’t be abused anyway, because it’s a gift given freely regardless of how it’s received.

When someone unconditionally loves you despite you with no end in sight, it changes you.  The only other option is to beat you up with religion and rules, which can’t sustain you for your whole life.  While grace takes longer, it will become a part of you in a way that moral conformity never can. 

Without grace, we’re just clocking in our daily tasks until we “feel holy” or we’re desperately trying to hit an arbitrary standard.  With grace, we a have a limitless love that provokes us into the same kind of love.  It changes not only what you do, but what you want to do.  It turns nobodies into somebodies as long as they remember they’re nothing who received something.

That’s the only truth that could ever motivate someone to anything.  We work hard, but grace empowers every effort.


— J.S.

18 thoughts on “Question: Doesn’t Grace Make You Lazy?

  1. Thank you for this bro! I remember this C.S. Lewis quote: “Love is not affectionate feeling but steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

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  2. Yessir! You share the exact paradoxical tension Paul holds up in 1 Cor 15:10: “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” Was it me working hard? Or was it God’s grace in me? The answer to both is, “Yes!”

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    1. I totally missed that verse, thank you for adding it here. I also forgot Titus 2:11-12 — For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age …

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  3. Great post! I view grace as the presence of God in your life that empowers you to BE what He has intended you to be. As such, grace is not intended for God to tolerate our fallen humanity but rather empower us to be transformed to the image of the Son.

    I really liked your point…..”it will become a part of you in a way that moral conformity never can.” We must mature and realize that Grace is not a “doctrine.” Grace is the overflow of the covenantal love and power of the Godhead, infusing and empowering a human being.

    Peace!

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  4. I think the real problem always comes back to the nature of God. When people are consistently being told that God is angry with all of us ‘dirty, rotten sinners’ and planning to bash in the heads of people who refuse to repent one day (for all eternity, mind you), then grace becomes a “get out of jail free card.” That’s precisely when the older brother begins to complain. If only the older brother had understood grace and how it was working in his own life as well…

    BUT, when you start to understand God’s real mission …

    “broken people being loved and healed”

    … NOT punishing the wicked, then grace is not fire insurance, but a relationship of love which we get to participate in with the Trinity.

    Your message is KEY, JS, and I love the way you explained it. Thanks for another timely reminder. As Ephesians 1 asserts over and over again, everything is “for the praise of His glorious grace”!!

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    1. Absolutely right: we get to dance with the Trinity. Grace is always scary to people (even those who love grace), because it’s pretty uncomfortable to think that God sees us the same regardless of what we do. We always want to limit it, as if we might let people off the hook. But it’s only grace that can cut through our sin-cycle like a hot searing wire. Nothing else will come close.

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  5. Lovingly frank and beautifully candid as always.

    One question! Can you expound upon how those who are spiritual are called to rebuke those inside the church in love in order to reorient their eyes toward God? I think in this post-modern culture, grace (or “grace”) is abundant in the church, but I am having trouble discerning when love calls me to rebuke a brother/sister versus biting my lip and mourning/struggling alongside them.

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  6. One of the better posts I’ve read from you, bro. And that’s saying a lot! Hit me right where I’m at. Just the encouragement I’ve needed to hear lately.

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