Tuesday, January 23, 2007

grace, the extended remix

So I just finished watching the One Punk Under God documentary. A six episode series showing on the sundance channel or, in my case, downloaded off of itunes. It’s basically the story of Jay Baker, son of Jim and Tammy Baker. The story goes that, after watching how the church treated his parents after their huge fallout, Jay left the church and spent several years messing around with drugs. But he eventually got his life turned around, and began a ministry to outcasts.

I’ve been keeping up with Jay’s ministry for several years now. His message of love and grace, as well as his understanding that not all believers wear kakis, is one that has inspired and encouraged me over the past few years as I’ve tried to find my own place in ministry and the church. This documentary, however, challenged me in a way that I did not expect.

One thing that I have begun to realize over the past year is that, while I have huge amounts of patience and grace for unbelievers, the amount of patience and grace I have for believers is extremely limited. Extremely limited. I’m quick to throw around the word “Pharisee”. And, I’m sorry to say, I’m also quick to harbour bitter feelings towards those I feel responsible for turning a lost world against Christ.

I want to find some balance in that.

I want to hold believers accountable. I want to remind believers of the mission and of the point for our existence. But I also want to be able and willing to offer grace to people, even believers, even when their actions may have, indeed, had massive consequences on the mission. That’s hard to do. And even now I find myself much more willing to offer grace to Jim and Tammy Baker simply because they’ve been forthright with their sins. Guys like Tim LaHaye, Jerry Fallwell and Pat Robertson haven’t done that, and so I find myself still very much struggling to offer them any grace.

I’m not quite sure what to do with that, nor exactly where the balance lies. One thing I do know is that the Bakers have both asked for forgiveness, and I have been wrong in not giving it to them. LaHaye, Fallwell, and Robertson I’ll just have to continue to struggle with I guess.

Btw, I have no idea what to say about the response to my last post. If not for the counter on my page, I’d assume that people had just stopped reading my blog. Are people rolling their eyes at that post? Are they unsure of what to say? Are they too angry to type? Are they in agreement and just don’t want to say? I have no idea.

Comments on "grace, the extended remix"

 

Blogger wendy said ... (8:59 PM) : 

To react on what you wrote. I do recognise some of what you wrote. And I think that with writing this you are talking about 2 things that you can separate from each other. The first thing is the difference between grace and patience for believers and non believers and the second is forgiveness for when someone do ask for forgiveness. I would like to start with responding on the second point.

I think it is always easier to forgive people that do ask for forgiveness. At the moment they ask for forgiveness they realise that they are wrong and apologize and ask forgiveness for their acts. It is so much easier to forgive someone that does apologize you can talk about it and go on, on the path. When someone doesn’t apologize it can be of two reasons the first reason has to do with emotions like being ashamed, being to proud and so on. And you know what the people probably have to live with this feeling of guilt all their lives. I am more worried about the second group of people that doesn’t know that they are wrong in what they do or say. They believe in what they did and they can’t see what they did wrong. I sad is that and how much more should we try to forgive these people and even more pray for this people that they will get the wisdom to see what they do. It doesn’t make it any easier but maybe it is something to think about as well.

Then to go into the first point the difference between grace and patience for believers and non believers. I think you always expect something more from believers from Christians it is just how you want to say it. They must be an example in this world they must show God in the world around them. And we expect that from each other. Because we want to stand in this world as an army of God that wants to show everything God has to give. So yes when people and even more people of some influence are spreading words and have a way of life that seems not good to us we are disappointed. And we see what harm it can do to others. Especially the people that don’t know so much, that maybe don’t know God and His love and maybe we are afraid that they get the wrong idea of God. And that’s indeed a hard thing.
But then I start also thinking by myself. Do I always do the right thing do I always know what I am doing wrong? When I am in some situations and I try to deal with a situation as good as possible, maybe it isn’t the right way. And yes I am open for critics on the way I deal with things and maybe some others are not. Are maybe some other believe so strongly in what they do that they are not yet ready to see the truth. And that is the moment we have to start to pray for these people. And yes I know this sounds like a real Christian answer but do you have any other answer for me? Yes I agree it is a very difficult point and you cannot just change the way you feel about things. But I am saying and maybe saying this even more to myself. Keep praying for the people that don’t take the responsibility of their acts because they are blind for it, or because they cannot admit it.

And you know when you forgive people it just feels so much better for yourself. It will make you feel free. You know these kind of feelings can really keep you away from God. I have experienced that and yes when you forgive you will be free.

 

Blogger neatr_natr said ... (10:23 PM) : 

The pastor at my church said this a few weeks ago, I don't know if it will help. He said when faith is absent (or deficient) we expect too much of life, too much of people, and too little of God. That wasn't a dig at you Tim, the pastor actually went on to say, don't expect so much of people, expect much of God!

He made the point for those of us who say (myself included) Well they are too apathetic, or too much of a Pharisee, or whatever, the pastor turned it back and said Oh and you've never been any of those things.

Faith expects less of life, less of other people, and more of God.

The deepest satisfaction comes from holiness - not comfort. Those whobelieve do some of their finest work by being grateful in the midst of pain, for gratitude offers light to a culture of complaint (Phil. 2).

Disappointments are unavoidable; complaint is a choice. But, so, too, is gratitude! (It was a Thanksgiving message)

 

Blogger jsi said ... (12:58 AM) : 

Grace and patience - both flowing straight from God. Both requiring exercised faith of the believer. Both needed desparately in the world today.
Both, when used, will make the world a better place.
Praying for you and the steps which you will walk - situations which require greater patience and greater grace are in your future.
Meet them on your knees with an expecting heart - God will do this!
Enjoy your evening!

 

Blogger Cari said ... (3:32 AM) : 

rxRespectfully, exactly why is it that anyone has to seek our approval? Is our arrogance any less when we require "proper remorse" from someone? When will I be satisfied that someone else has correctly sought and recieved forgiveness, and why are they accountable to me anyway?

God sets us apart for His holy purpose, and we are accountable to Him. Certainly, He places people in our path to guide us, but He is still THE God of grace, mercy, and, equally, justice, and will deal with us accordingly. God allows us to screw up. Even to publicly fall on our faces. The rest of the world, holy or not, should allow that to happen so that God can teach us a lesson. Jacob had to wrestle with God. Peter had to betray Him. David had to betray pretty much everyone. But through that, and the arrogance and hiding that followed, God changed each man in astounding ways. Who are we to say what happens in the private moments between God and all these men who have so sorely disappointed us?

I fell on my face in a public way. I was humiliated. It was in seeking help that a non-believer called me "the most arrogant person he'd ever spoken to". After a lot of searching, I was horrified to learn what a Pharisee I was! In looking back, I see the process, how God has used that to heal me, and though I am still not totally encumbered by the burden of humility, I have been humbled and seek to be less prideful. In the mean time, trying to raise teens (who know everything, let me assure you) and teaching college kids, I'm desperately seeking a "balance". It all comes down to pride and arrogance: pride of an older generation who "know what they know and that's enough" and a younger entitled generation who make me sick in their casual approach to the throne. (We're currently comparing and contrasting "boldly" and "arrogantly".)

I think that we have to be mindful in how we demand that others follow our script for holiness. We need to focus on Christ and not others, because others will fail us, and fail us, and fail us.

I know you think that stuffy judgemental Christians turn the world off. And you're right, they do a lot. But where is the balance in the more contemporary "cooler" worship?

You challenge me and make me think. I love you, my brother. Your passion for truth makes me want to be a better Christian and keeps me in The Word.

You're also still the coolest guy I know. (And I mean that in the good way.)

 

Blogger Mel Reynolds said ... (3:22 PM) : 

I think I am harbouring an un-gracious attitude towards you for STILL not putting me back on your blog roll.

 

Blogger Larry said ... (2:15 AM) : 

Tim,

First, I am truly amazed that believers don't wear khakis. Obviously, you have never been to an SA event or read the latest issue of the Good News. (See the uniform article)

Seriously, Nate is so right. I have been talking with many officer friends who have been hurt by congregants. Many of us have come to the same conclusion as Nate's pastor. We expect too much from people and not enough from God.

We can talk all we want about different standards for Christians. The fact is, fallen nature makes us insensitive to many things. Maybe this is the issue with some of those people you discuss in your blog. It is not that they don't care they just don't know and are insensitive.

 

Blogger Trent said ... (8:44 PM) : 

Tim,

As you can tell from my blog these are questions I am totally exploring. No comments till now because I need these ideas to percolate and simmer. Some of what you said is quite radical. It really is. I think the questions you raise get to the heart of what we as believers are.

In "Under the Overpass" I read an account of meeting a drug addicted Christian. He was homeless and living in a park with a lot of other homeless people. This man genuinely tried to help those around him. Sometimes he would sit with his "neighbors and talkabout Jesus while smoking a bong.

The question was raised about why it is okay for drug free unloving,ungracious, uncaring, christians to be welcome in a church but not a drug addicted, caring, loving indivdual. The author then asked, "Which one would Jesus hang with?"

I think I know, but am I just being ungracious?

 

Blogger danielle said ... (2:37 AM) : 

this is totally unrelated to whatever your post is about but will you please post some new pictures of your daughter on her blog! it has been 3 months for goodness sake!!! i want to see her. thank you, that's all.

 

Blogger Rich said ... (2:11 AM) : 

tim,

what was your meaning when writing this one? since you don't read email....this blog thing...which I never do since its so anti-rich will be the only way I get to talk to you. some incite into as to what your meaning is...because there's always a meaning to your madness. let me know what you think. and more pics of the baby would be cool too...you can send them to my email (something I don't think you have) lilchino_23_03@hotmail.com
I will save them and remember you since you didn't give me anything to remember you by but the "passion" if you know what I mean?

 

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