This post is part of Glenn Hager’s Synchroblog. He asked people to write on the topic: Things I Learned From Church (That Didn’t Prove True And What I Am Learning Lately).
In church I was taught all about “grace.” I was taught that grace is urging people into coming to church, shaming people, adding expectations to people, holding things over peoples heads. I was also taught about works. I was taught that works could not get you into heaven. This included, coming to church, being ashamed, acting as people expected, and responding to manipulation for forgiveness.
First, people were being “urged” into coming to church. They were urged to come early for Sunday School or more frequently for other programs and services. The guilt came in small packages, designed to trick people into becoming righteous in God’s eyes. If you come more often God will love you more. If you do more then God will bless you more. But most of all, doing this would not save you… but do not worry about that, just come to church.
Second, I noticed that when the numbers low that meant God was not happy with us. Most likely it was because the majority was not being faithful to God and giving him back 10% of what was rightfully his. After all, he did give us 100% of what we have… surely we could give him a measly 10% back. Oh, and if you didn’t, that means you are not in his will and his love will not fall on you until you do. But most of all, tithing will not save you… but do not worry about that, just give your 10%.
Third, I noticed that there were a number of people who acted differently than I did. Some thought a Christian cannot even think of the word alcohol or you would be sent directly to hell. Some thought a Christian needed to wear a suit to church. If you did not do this, then you were being a bad Christian, a bad witness, and a bad example. But most of all, doing these things will not save you… but do not worry about that, just follow my lead.
Forth, I also noticed that some people liked to hold grudges. Forgiveness? Why should I forgive you for what you did to me? You have to prove to me first that you have changed, then I might forgive you, we’ll see. Dance puppet, dance. But most of all, trying to win my approval will not save you… but do not worry about that, just relax and let me string you along.
Then I picked up my Bible, talked to God, and I realized something. Grace was something completely different than what I was seeing. I learned that grace is simple, not complex. With grace, there is no guilt, there are no extra-biblical expectations, there are no comparisons, there is no puppet-master. Instead there is admonishing, teaching, loving, and forgiveness. This is what God showed me about Grace and he showed it to me most of all through his Son’s work on the cross.