[Angry post. Sorry.]
I know too many Christians who are yelling, “Don’t guilt-trip me bro, you can’t judge my faith, don’t be a hater, Jesus loves me no matter what” — and this is really a pseudo-grace that doesn’t even begin to address the complex reality of our messed-up beat-up hearts.
If we continually hijack beautiful words like “freedom” and “grace” to become hipster relevant rebellious Christians who are “not like those uptight religious people,” then we turn Christianity into a popularity contest of appealing to the burnt-out prodigals. We make phrases like “everyone struggles” into an excuse to be supposedly helpless out-of-control morons, which also diminishes people who genuinely struggle.
Without a very real cross, we turn grace into an abstract fuzzy feeling like a Hallmark card from the dollar-store. It works for about two seconds until you have to confront the ugliness of our human condition.
I’ve met some of your favorite Christian pastors and authors and bloggers: and at least half of them are insufferable intolerable jerks who can’t handle ideas like rebuke and discipline and self-control. They feel threatened by the very possibility of becoming a Pharisee, so they cuss and drink and bash megachurches: not for any legit reasons, but to prove a point. Many of them live in a reactionary counter-culture of “me” versus “the church,” as if they’re wearing a cape to save you from the Pope. They’ve been burnt by a bad legalism, but in response, there is a new type of legalism: to be cool hyper-grace Christians that only talk about God’s warm winter-blanket love.
I’m not okay with this because I’ve been burnt by both extremes. I’ve been blasted by Reformed Neo-Calvinists AND emergent hipster “grace-only” Christians. I’ve been cussed out for showing too much grace AND upholding the law. I’ve been blasted by doctrine nerds and megachurches and parachurches and those bloggers who preach a good blog but are actually self-important snobs.
I know I’m probably doing the same thing I’m accusing everyone of doing: but I seriously hurt so bad for my fellow brothers and sisters. I do love them, regardless of the damage. We could be so great in the world, if we weren’t trying so hard to out-great each other.
It doesn’t matter how much we flaunt grace in our sermons and blogs and podcasts: because when I see you behind closed doors and you’re still bad-mouthing everyone in black-and-white categories, no one is impressed by that, including you. I don’t care about your fancy words. I care if you love me and you love Jesus. Not perfectly, but with sincere passion. Jesus didn’t die for your platform. He died on a dirty Roman cross for your very real sin. And that grace is just as much for you as for me as for the Pharisee next to you.