have you ever noticed how easy it is to buy into a school of thought?
When you find someone or a group of people you like or fit in with or relate to, it’s easy to act like them, think like them, and speak like them. I’ve found this to be true in my life in the community of preachers and believers.
Reflecting now, I can look back and see how God has been at work in my life in the last few years. I remember being an 18 year old working at McDonald’s, wondering if God would still accept me after a work shift because I always ended up so frustrated that I’d do or say something I’d regret. I never treated anyone with a shred of grace and felt like my witness was constant trash based on what I’d do, say, or not do or not say. I went through regretting the way I quit my job at McDonald’s (I had taken a couple weeks off to “focus on school” and ended up texting my boss and telling him I wasn’t coming back) and the backlash of that (he wasn’t too happy with me.) I went through a summer of no work that I spent hovered over a cup of coffee and either my xbox or my laptop, watching the previous night’s episode of the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.
I have gone from when I was a perpetual saver in high school (I had several thousand dollars saved up upon graduation) to when I was a spender with a bottomless wallet and no inhibition. I spent probably thousands on movies, TV shows on dvd, eating out, and having a good time with my friends back to now, when the only time I get like that is when I order textbooks for a new semester and feel like I’ll have to completely rebuild my bank account anyway (I still struggle to spend $5 on lunch after church.)
The reason I say all of this is to say that I’ve matured and changed a lot (some of it was backwards progress, and then forward) and I always attribute it to the grace of God. In our preacher’s cadre that I was involved in, we always talked about the empowering grace of God. How it’s by the grace of God that we are empowered to preach, teach, and do ministry. That the grace of God helps us treat friends, family, and co-workers like Jesus would.
Basically, the idea is that grace allows us to live like Jesus does.
It hit me the other day that I have no idea where I got that idea, other than being around fellow believers. I couldn’t point you to a scripture that says that.
This was a bit of a crisis for me, because I have a fear that developed as a kid of not being able to defend my position on things (my sisters and brother were always great at arguing, but I was always terrible. I didn’t keep records well and never formulated a good argument) so for a few days, I freaked out a little bit, and began desperately looking through scripture to find things that back up statements such as, “grace helps me live like Jesus” or “grace empowers me to do ministry.” I quickly have had to learn to be “patient” with God’s word.
On a quick side note: this blog post is not going to be about grace, but I will quickly say that it IS starting to make sense based on the definition of grace–that it is unmerited favor. Some people have differentiated grace and mercy as such: grace is getting what you don’t deserve (in a sense of favor anyway) and mercy is not getting what you deserve (in a sense of judgment, anyway) so it kind of makes sense that God’s favor is what makes the difference in my ability to be a preacher, for example. I normally would be undeserving of such, but God saw it fit to give me the privilege of sharing His amazing message of redemption and forgiveness through Jesus Christ–that’s grace.
But the point of what I’m getting at here is that it’s important to seek out the grounds for what you say you believe yourself. It’s okay to question a little bit. At first I was freaking out because I was a little scared that I’d find out that everything I’d been saying about grace was a hoax or vastly misinterpreted. As it turns out, I have been finding patterns that defend things I’ve been saying and believing about the gospel (that Jesus wiped out requirements [Colossians 2:14] that ALL sin is/can be forgiven [Colossians 2:13] that Jesus’ death and resurrection is overwhelmingly more powerful than sin [Romans 5: 15-17] etc)
But the point I’m getting at is that as Christians, we should not merely regurgitate what we hear from pulpits or in our circles without understanding it ourselves (I’m NOT saying that preachers aren’t reliable) but Peter urged the church to always be prepared to give a defense for the hope you have–which basically means: explain yourself!
I think it’s okay to question a little bit, particularly if you ask God how to understand His word! (I’m not a fan of the ideology that calls EVERYTHING into question in the sense that you’re willing to not believe that the Bible is true, but examine and solidify your theology!)
Any thoughts or ideas are welcome.