Monday, October 20, 2014

Uncomfortable Grace

It was a number of years ago at a mens' Bible study lunch group.  I brought in an article that I printed out the night before called, "Freedom from Quiet Time Guilt."  While it seems I cannot find the article as I remember it, today, the point of the article was to encourage the struggling Christian -a Christian, in this case, burdened by guilt for not having their "Daily Quiet Time" (DQT) religiously- by reminding him that DQT is not a Biblical command (even if it is useful and good) and that we live and walk by grace through faith.

Being zealous for good theology and having something of a tender conscience, I struggled with burdens of guilt and often searched and read books and articles to help me find answers and deepen my understanding.  I found the article refreshing, and I loved that it challenged conventional, often unquestioningly accepted norms (something I still love to this day).  So, I brought in the article and tried to explain what it was about to the other men (older Christian men) at the table.  I was a bit dismayed, but not overly shocked, by some of the responses.

Why wouldn't you want to have daily quiet time??

But daily quiet time is a good thing.  I enjoy my quiet time every single morning, at 4:30am, before anybody else wakes up...

Even now I look back and think, "Huh?"  The responses didn't actually deal with the issue I was raising at all.  They revealed assumptions, maybe even fears.  I was saying one thing, and their responses were clearly in response to something else... something they assumed or interpreted me as saying.  But what was the problem?

I think it boils down to this.  Even seasoned Christians can have a tendency to fear grace.  The idea of lifting burdens of guilt is assumed to mean lifting burdens of responsibility.  In other words, if grace removes guilt and fear, then the fear is that we will turn to license since we no longer have something keeping us on the straight and narrow.  But is that Biblical?  Is that the Gospel we profess to live by?  No.  "For it is the love of Christ that constrains us." (2 Cor 5:14)

I believe it is natural man's tendency is to see the world either as license or legalism.  The more legally minded religious folks fear giving up their religiosity for fear of becoming one of those sinners who believe they have license to do whatever they want.  And the non-religious people who feel license to do as they wish recoil at the idea of religion because of its "rules".  With each, their identity is a kind of security to them.  Giving it up means giving up control.

But grace is the third option that natural man is not familiar with.  It calls both of these alternatives to abandon their security blanket and find themselves smack in the midst of grace, where it is all on the terms of Another.  That is not something we like or know what to do with.  Grace it not only foreign to us.  It is uncomfortable.

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