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Unity Requires Grace!

Whenever someone starts to talk about unity, other people get nervous that somehow people who shouldn’t be in the fold of the saved might be allowed in.  I suppose too many people under grace would somehow water down the value of salvation, or those that were really good would be disappointed to learn that they didn’t really need to be that good to get in.

Even those who further narrow the passage way believe in grace.  In fact, it is the measure and scope of God’s grace that seems to be one of the most difficult problems. Too much grace and we have Romans 6: “Shall we sin that grace may abound??”  Too much grace and we are tempted towards universalism, or salvation for everyone!

But not enough grace and we find ourselves in legalism, sectarianism, and judgmentalism, which all of us believe to be out of step with the spirit of Christ.

What if we quit speculating about grace and just listed the sins toward which we know God has extended grace.  This is just a blog, not a book, so you’ll forgive me for just hitting the high points without a lot of footnotes.

Old Testament

  1. Lying              –                                              Abraham lied twice about his wife
  2. Cheating      –                                              Jacob cheated Esau out of the blessing
  3. Idolatry        –                                              Aaron made a golden calf for Israel to worship
  4. Rebellion     –                                              Aaron and Miriam rebelled against Moses’ leadership
  5. Lust                –                                              David lusted after Bathsheba
  6. Adultery      –                                              David took Bathsheba to bed and got her pregnant
  7. Murder        –                                              David had Bathsheba’s husband Uriah killed
  8. Challenging God’s righteousness      Job

New Testament

  1. Adultery      –                              Jesus and the adulterous woman
  2. Stealing        –                              Thief on the cross
  3. Denying Jesus           –              Peter
  4. Power struggle         –              “Who will be the greatest in the kingdom”
  5. Hatred/Vengence   –              “Do you want us to call down fire on them?”
  6. Persecuting Christians –         Saul of Tarsus
  7. Murder                        –              Saul and Stephen
  8. Racial prejudice/hypocrisy – Peter with the Greek Christians

And then there is the lists of  “and so were some of you” that Paul mentions: “You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” Colossians 3:7.

So how does this list of sins stack up against those sins for which you are willing to deny fellowship with others who call on the name of the Lord?

 

Let’s acknowledge two very important truths about sin/grace here:

  1. All sin has consequences.  Grace did not mean Paul was not hated and persecuted by the Jews. Grace did not mean that David’s infant son by Bathsheba did not die.  All sin has consequences.
  2. We are called to repent of all sin!  But as I think back over the above list, I don’t remember Abraham or Jacob or the Sons of Thunder repenting—at least not in a way that was worth recording.

So I can acknowledge that God’s grace is extended to all (“God so loved the world”—not “God so loved the Good People”)and still acknowledge that there are people who will not accept the grace of God.

Two verses of Scripture have changed my need to speculate about the portion of grace you have received.

John 1:14 – The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory,the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

If Jesus could be full of truth and full of grace at the same time, then I should strive for the same.  All truth and no grace is just as wrong as all grace and no truth!  Full, to me, means going for the most truth possible and the most grace possible.

James 2:13“Mercy triumphs over judgment.”

What this says to me is that if you are in doubt about whether to exercise mercy or judgment, you should always choose mercy.

Ephesians 2 says that God is rich in mercy.  If you need help in deciding whether to show grace or to exercise judgment—think about being “full of grace” like Jesus and “rich in mercy” like God.  I have a hard time seeing how you can go wrong following these paths.

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