Friday, May 13, 2011

The Controversy of Grace

What is more controversial than books that lay down the exact times and events of Armageddon? What is more feared than blunt accusations of evil incarnations? What needs to be kept secured and locked up more than judgmental finger waving and classist exclusivism?

The truth is nothing has become more controversial than the love and mercy of God. I have now visited four Christian book stores that have refused to carry Rob Bell’s new book Love Wins because it has carried too much uproar among some circles. Opponents of the book call it universalistic. I have not yet read the book, therefore, I cannot formulate an argument for or against its wide doors to eternal life. However, I find it odd that John Hagee’s books on the Armageddon and the evil Muslim world are considered more Christian in Character than a book about Jesus looking to save everyone he can.

I find it troubling that Joel Osteen’s book about wealth and health guaranteed through faith being thought more Biblical, than a God offering eternal life through grace.

It makes me frustrated and downright sad that those who follow Christ are more known for what we prohibit than what we freely offer. Jesus’ words “they will know you are Christians by your love” still holds true to this humble believer, but I find myself asking if I am in the minority?

I never like to sugar coat the gospel of Christ. Jesus did not fear telling people that it would cost them everything to chase after the Messiah. However, if I only have one opportunity with someone, if I have only one message or one word to get across to someone about the power of Christ and his message, if I were given just one small 140 character tweet, I would not spend it dividing up who I believe make eternal life residency and those who do not. Instead I would spend the time sharing the enormity and cleansing power of the cross. I would share John 3:17 that Jesus is not looking to condemn but to save, and I would share my time, money, food, and life as a sign of his transforming love.

The truth over Bell’s controversial book is based on our fear of an open gospel means a universal gospel. Eugene Peterson says it best “There’s very little Christ, very little Jesus, in these people who are fighting Rob Bell.”

Let us stop fighting on this public stage about who has the keys t the kingdom of God, and let us stop our dogmatic tug-o-war match, and let us simply allow the controversial grace of Jesus Christ heal.

But if you had learned what this means I desire mercy not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the innocent - Jesus (Matthew 12:7)

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