The following is an excerpt from Why Church Sucks And No One Really Wants To Go Chapter 4 entitled, “Is God in Church?”
A “Leavened” Meal
Let’s put the gospel of grace versus the leaven of the law in understandable terms using something all of us can relate to…Dining out.
Imagine the following scenario:
You’re sitting happily in your favorite restaurant with your friends and family after Sunday services. You’ve waited all week to come here and you’re pretty excited. You even purposely ate less than half of what you normally would for breakfast so you would feel better about indulging in something really special from the menu. This is a culinary event and you have high expectations. Everyone has ordered at this point and the waiter has disappeared to submit your orders. You realize that you’re starting to eat too much bread while you’re waiting, so you stop. “I need to leave room,” you remind your appetite. After about 20 minutes you start to drift out of the conversations at the table and you begin eyeing that kitchen door for your waiter. Where is my food? I’m starving!
Finally the food arrives. Ohhh it’s here! You’re literally smiling from ear to ear (which looks totally strange) and you can’t wait to dig in. All the meals are properly placed in front of your dinner companions and you’ve politely waited the appropriate amount of time for everyone to settle. You’re salivating.
It’s at that moment your expectations take a nosedive. Just as the waiter is about to leave, you eye your prize. Just slightly to the left of your juicy steak you notice there’s a very small…..well could that be a…….umm. Well excuse me sir, uhh, I’m not sure but what is this here? You confusingly point to your plate.
“Oh that’s a turd sir.”
I’m sorry, a WHAT?
“That’s a turd. You know. Shit.”
Wha….I…..It’s a WHAT? Are you kidding me?!!
“It’s only one small turd sir. It’s not touching any of your food at all. See I noticed that you’re just slightly overweight. That small bit of feces is there to keep you from making a fool out of yourself by eating the entire over-proportioned meal, and then sopping it all up with the last piece of bread. It will keep you in check. Consider it a service. Enjoy your meal.”
That is preposterous! No right-minded person would ever accept something like that. The entire meal would be ruined; it wouldn’t matter one bit that the excrement wasn’t touching any of your food!
That is precisely what is being smilingly served in most of our churches. That poop on the plate? That’s anything taught, preached, shared or communicated in a way other than God’s new covenant of grace.
It doesn’t produce what we really expect when we “balance” the message of grace with a little bit of law on the side. We think it’s so people won’t make the mistake of thinking they can get away with sin. I’ve got some news. We’re all “getting away with sin.” We’re afraid grace will be abused. More news…true grace cannot possibly be abused. You cannot balance law and grace and expect any lasting results that will change lives, let alone the world. And know this for certain, the true gospel of grace does in fact change the world. If you add even a small amount of personal performance to grace then grace has become void. The cross has become only a symbol on your t-shirt and the Spirit of grace is insulted in that area.
Hear this clearly, it is not our SIN that insults the blood of Christ, it is the insane idea that we can work for God’s blessing, acceptance and love through anything at all other than receiving. As John Gerstner has said, “The main thing between you and God is not so much your sins; it’s your damnable good works.” If we believe that free and unfettered grace will produce ill-used freedom then we have not truly heard the message of the gospel. Grace is not what we can get away with; grace is the very thing that keeps us from getting away.
What our current church system produces is polite, service-attending citizens. Pardon me while I throw up my socks. The gospel doesn’t need to be undermined by a healthy dose of law so that people won’t forget that they have to act right. How ridiculous. The bible says in Hebrews 13:9
”it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace.”
Not by service. Not by bible study. Not by passionate moments in prayer. Not by fasting or radical worship. By Grace!
In Romans 1:16 Paul states that he is not ashamed of the gospel “for it is the power of God to save.” It follows then that whatever is not the gospel does not have the power to save. Nor does it have the power to keep. Nor does it have the power to draw our hurting souls to the throne of grace to find healing. And we do need a lot of healing. All the time.