Are You Ready For Grace?

Do not judge others, and you will not be judged. For you will be treated as you treat others.
The standard you use in judging is the standard by which you will be judged.

“And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own?
How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’
when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?
 Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye;
then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.
Matthew 7:1-5

Have you ever met a “new convert” to Christianity? Or, can you remember back to when you first came into the family? If you were anything like me, you had some people on the outside continually telling you about all of the crap you were doing wrong, and using Heaven to filter out the judgment. My first few years as a Christian I was a complete douche to people I loved, people I knew, and people who I didn’t know personally. I made it my business to watch from a distance and lash out with something that probably felt like a smack to the back of the head. The lens I wore to read the bible made all of the “DO NOT’S” become 3D and basically jump off of the page at me. But, I wasn’t reading the bible to find out more about my wicked heart so I could learn how to die to myself and be more like Jesus, I was reading it so I had ammo to save people who were dirty, rebellious sinners and I needed to help them see their sinful ways.

I met religion and became a follower of church at 18 years old, and it’s possible that through all of the “good” I did during that time, that I didn’t actually become a Follower of the Way until I was 28 years old. Ten Years Later I connected with Jesus in a really personal way, full of intimacy with Holy Spirit and I took a long-ass-bath in the pool of grace that has changed the lens I wear to see humanity.

When I journey through my past, I realize that I continually rejected intimacy w/ Holy Spirit because it scared me… That relationship takes religion out of the equation and makes you be accountable to conviction, without the measure of “good & bad or right & wrong”. It became apparent to me that I wasn’t only in denial that I had a log in my eye, but for years I learned how to see past it and just continue to push my opinion, judgment, & scale of right & wrong on those who I interacted with. It is the truth of a calloused heart.

As my relationship with God has evolved and my heart has grown softer it is clear to me that Jesus has always cared more about bringing life than being right. That one sabbath day healing tells the story beautifully – While in the synagogue a man with a crippled arm interacted with Jesus, and a church leader of the day asked, “You’re not going to heal him on the sabbath are you? And Jesus replied, “Is it lawful to bring life or death on the sabbath?” as usual, the religious man could only stand and stare as he looked logic in the face and watched as Jesus healed this man on a day when the “right” thing to do would have been to pass the man by.

Our call and duty as Followers of the Way is to make disciples – To lead people in the footsteps of the Good Shepherd. This is often confused with making converts, which is very specifically not what we are called to spend our lives doing. We end up herding people into buildings, meetings & clubs with a pencil and notepad ready to tally every hand raised during the alter call – Instead of inviting humans to travel along side us in transformation, freedom, and grace. Humans who are so content in the spirit that it makes way more sense to walk up to someone, like Jesus did, and say, “Hey, I see a potential in you that you may not see yet, I can show you the source of your potential if you’ll follow me [to the empty tomb of Jesus].

As with most things I’ve written about, I have failed at this time and time again – but this journey really started when I was camping in Colorado with my grandfather, and during some down time between fishing and riding quads I was able to finish Ragamuffin Gospel by Brennan Manning. God used Manning’s story to break me and start the painful process of pulling the log out of my eye. It won’t bring ultimate truth, or black and white answers, but I would encourage every Christian to read this book to gain some perspective. Perspective is healthy because it demands a view from the other side…I’m passionate about this very subject because Jesus tells us this [in John 13] “The world will know you are My disciples by your love for one another”, and after hundreds/thousands of years of scholarly & pastoral input we’ve only drawn more dividing lines among ourselves, which tells me we can’t be doing a very good job of showing the world what a disciple [of Jesus] actually looks like.

I’ll leave you with this quote from Ragamuffin Gospel:Ragamuffin Gospel
The Word we study has to be the Word we pray. My personal experience of the relentless tenderness of God came not from exegetes, theologians, and spiritual writers, but from sitting still in the presence of the living Word and beseeching Him to help me understand with my head and heart His written Word. Sheer scholarship alone cannot reveal to use the gospel of grace. We must never allow the authority of books, institutions, or leaders to replace the authority of knowing Jesus Christ personally and directly.



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