Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cheap Grace and the Nuclear Option

I Corinthians 5:1-2
"It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and of a kind that even pagans do not tolerate: A man is sleeping with his father’s wife. And you are proud!"

For years I worked at a pool and tennis club and coached a swim team with around 100 kids between the ages of 5 and 18.  There were two camps that the parents fell into; Those who disciplined their kids, and those who didn't.  You can guess which kids I enjoyed the most.  The worst was when I was undercut by the non-disciplining parents.  Their kid would do something egregious, I would give some sort of consequence(sitting out of the pool, extra laps, etc) and then that parent would berate me for it in front of their kid.  Didn't matter what the kid had done, they were an angel, and how dare I say they couldn't pick on someone weaker than them.....

 One of my favorite Christian writers of the 20th century wrote,

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession.... Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost Of Discipleship

Doesn't that smack a little close to home today?  We are so quick to give cheap grace that never calls us to something more. 

The church in Corinth apparently has something rotten inside of it.  There is a man who claims fellowship with them who is living in unrepentant sin.  What is interesting is that the Corinthians know this is a problem because the language Paul uses, "It is reported", indicates he had to get this information from a different source than them. 

So why are they proud?  Cheap grace.  They have bastardized the idea of "come as you are" and turned it into "stay as you are".  The Gospel calls us to pick up our cross.  The message of Jesus was "REPENT and believe". 

The power of the Cross is that there is no sin too big to keep us from grace.  And there is no sin to big that grace cannot heal and change.  When we refuse to address sin in the light of grace, freely given, it is a red flag. 

But here is the thing.  It is not a red flag of being a non-Christian.

None of Pauls language infers that he is calling this person a false Christian.  He is calling him out for sin.  Later in this section he says that the Corinthians need to remove him from fellowship so that he can face the reality of the destructive nature of sin and come to repentance

And then it gets even better.  In his follow up letter, 2 Corinthians, he readdresses this situation.  The man has faced great sorrow and has repented.  Paul tells the church to not let him suffer any longer, to restore him, to bring him home.

Cheap grace is destroying our people.  One sin at a time.  One family at a time.  One Church at a time.  Grace is free, it is not cheap.

Our greatest passion and drive should be to be more like Christ, AND, to encourage our brothers and sisters in the same manner.  When we refuse to speak truth and hold to account our community we begin to rot from the inside. 

Ask yourself this question;  What would the Christians in my life do if they were aware of unrepentant sin in my life?  What would my church do with unrepentant sin?

And then ask yourself;  Does that align with God's word?

Let me make something clear.  I am not calling for the hammer in all of our lives.  We each struggle with sin.  But are we struggling, or are we proud of it?  Pride over sin is the road to destruction.  Are you surrounding yourself with people who will speak Christ's grace into your life, a grace that is never cheap.

Christ died to set you free.  Not to so you can be free to do whatever you want. 


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