When does grace get out of balance?
While writing, Grace Is Not A Dirty Word, I wondered what the grace police might have to say about my mercy-filled musings. I wrote this post you are about to read before even releasing my new eBook. I knew that these hall monitors of faith would come, pocket protectors and all, to make sure that the rest of us don’t take part in grace gone wild.
This was not hard for me to figure out.
I was one of them after all.
The Bad Word Police
My daughter, Sophie, is somewhat of the bad word police. She makes sure no one ever says a bad word. The only problem is that what she calls, “bad words” aren’t actually bad words.
This started when she was in pre-k at a Christian early learning center. Here she was taught how to behave in a Christian school setting, and she quickly began to monitor everyone’s behavior and words at home as well.
Don’t be Weird
Her favorite target is the word “weird.” She must have been told at school to not call other people weird, because she would not let us use that word for anything. “Don’t say that word, daddy. That’s a bad word. Just say “different.””
No matter how many times we tried to explain to her that it is ok to say weird as long as you are not calling someone else weird, she just didn’t get it. So we stopped saying weird among many other not bad “bad” words. We talked around those words, because we didn’t want our local bad word police officer to stop us mid conversation and correct us.
Where’s Your Dictionary?
There was a time when I was the same way about grace. I felt that it was my job to have a dictionary on hand anytime someone talked about grace to make sure that they were using the word correctly, and didn’t mistakenly promote “greazy grace“.
In many ways, grace had become a dirty word to me. Looking back, I realize that even the translation of the Bible I read during that time of my life omitted many uses of the word grace in place of other phrases.
I was being intimidated by the grace police.
Using Dirty Words
At the end of Sophie’s first year in pre-k I made sure to let her teacher know how good of a job she had done instilling the value of not using bad words. She didn’t learn her nazi-like enforcement of proper word usage from us, so it must have been from the disciplined environment at her pre-k program. I even told her about how Sophie refused to allow us to use the word “weird,” and asked her if there was some problem with kids calling each other weird in her class.
“That’s so funny!” she said. “I never taught her to do that. In fact, one day I was on the other side of the room when Sophie heard me say, ‘weird.’ She stopped playing with her toy, and shouted across the room, ‘You shouldn’t use that word! It’s not very nice!’”
The grace police can be the same way. They love talking about the basics of Christianity over and over again, but not grace. If you mention grace too often, then you have become out of balance, and are telling people its ok to sin. Like my daughter, they make something that isn’t a bad word into a dirty word.
Christians talking about grace should be about as newsworthy as the sun rising, and as controversial as the sun setting. It’s foundational to our faith.
No matter how many times you try to explain what you mean by grace, the morality police cannot see past their own assumptions. That is why I have decided to just move on, and stop trying to defend grace, and just start offering it, talking about it, and enjoying it freely.
You see its not what the grace police are saying about grace that is wrong (grace is not a license to sin, grace is not an excuse to compromise, etc.), its their assumption that this is what everyone other then them means by grace when they talk about the subject.
It’s not out of balance to talk a lot about grace. Its out of balance to be out of balance. Being passionate about grace or feeling called to bring clarity to the subject doesn’t mean that you devalue everything else. It just means that you may have to deal with a few people yelling across the room, “You shouldn’t use that word! It’s not very nice!”