Saturday, April 19, 2008

Getting hammered because of grace

In the comment section of his blog, "Do we need another Luther?", Bino said, "I want to encourage all of you to stand firm in the freedom in Christ and resist the burden of slavery. Above all, I want to thank God from the bottom of my heart for revealing His wonderful truth to us!"

Encouragement is a gift that is sorely needed in the church. Several years ago, I read about an experiment that was done. The participants were divided into two groups and both groups were made to stand barefooted in tubs filled with water and ice. They were timed to see how long they would remain in the icy water before giving up. The first group lasted a very short amount of time but the second group was able to stay in much longer. The difference was that the second group had people on the sidelines encouraging them and telling them that they could do it while the first group didn't. I think this is a clear picture of the difference encouragement makes in our ability to go the limit in a difficult situation.

Yesterday, I posted a comment to a blog someone had written about worship. What I wrote was essentially what I posted in my "Worshipping out in the wild" post but it was shorter and had less detail. (By the way, this is a grace blog but it doesn't belong to anyone in our particular grace community of bloggers.) Anyway, someone else posted another comment today and basically hammered me. This particular individual wrote a lengthy comment and completely misquoted me. I was surprised at this reaction because what I said was mild compared to what others had said. I wrote a short response explaining what I had actually said and got hammered again. So, I wrote an even shorter response and told her I wasn't going to respond to her comments again.

I've got to admit this is all new for me. I'm the one that everybody likes. I'm the one who gets nods of approval and amens when I speak. A number of months ago, I read an article by Paul Anderson Walsh in which he said more people reject the message of grace than accept it. I was shocked so I immediately emailed my friend, Darin Hufford, to ask him if that was true in his experience. He wrote back and completely confirmed everything. He shared about how angry some people have gotten when he has spoken. I also remember Joel commenting in one of his posts that when he spoke about grace, he could look out and see the angry faces.

My experience and the comments of these dear brothers who are further along in understanding grace than I am makes it clear that the grace message of life and freedom is not necessarily a popular message. It may cause others to get defensive and angry. While not looking for the negative, we have to understand that it will happen. People will get angry and spew angry words at us. They may reject us because we've tried to tell them about a Father who loves them more than they will ever know. We have to expect it and not let it catch us off guard.

I think the important thing is that we continue to give love even if all we receive in return is anger and rejection. It's a difficult battle we will face as we learn how to live more deeply in Father's love and share it with others. That's why I so appreciate Bino's words of encouragement. There may be times when the pressure to give up gets strong and we feel ourselves weakening but when we do, let's remember Bino's words and allow them to encourage us. The days ahead may be filled with difficulty at times so let's be a people who encourage one another as we have opportunity.

7 comments:

Joel Brueseke said...

Yep, I've got to say that encouragement from my brothers and sisters in Christ has truly played a huge part in keeping me grounded in grace and in keeping me enthused and passionate about knowing the truth and spreading the message of the truth!

I'm very thankful for all those who have spent the time it takes to communicate with others to keep them uplifted and encouraged.

As for rejection and negative/angry responses from other people... Yep indeedy there are a lot of hostile people out there! I've been debating and discussing the grace of God with others for several years now, and I have to agree with what Paul Anderson-Walsh and Darin Hufford have said: There is by far a larger amount of people who reject it than who accept it. Maybe those who accept it are simply more quiet about it... but I doubt it! LOL. No, in my experience with simply wanting to discuss grace with other people, by far I've encountered many more people who get angry and defensive than those who agree and affirm what I'm saying. I've been called all kinds of names, most of which I can't mention here.

And the thing is, as you mention here, it's not as if I've been looking for opportunities to be offensive! I've really just spoken what I believe, and it's like it's an automatic cue for others to go haywire.

Steve McVey gets into this a little bit in his April Newsletter. Having been around the world with his message and having a much larger audience, I'm sure he's dealt with quite a lot more of this than you or I could ever "hope" to. :)

In the end, your encouragement and Bino's encouragement that we stand firm and continue to encourage one another and build one another up with the message of God's grace and unconditional love, is what we need now and will always need.

Aida said...

Joel, thank you for sharing from your experience.

I guess I'm somewhat naive but I can't understand why anyone would be hostile about grace. It seems to me that everyone should be excited about it but apparently that's not true. Many people feel threatened by the freedom that grace offers and would seek to put us back in bondage with them.

Since we're going against the flow, there's going to be a strong current that will try to pull us back. I've found that the encouragement I receive from all of you has really helped me to be willing to move forward even during those times when it feels like I'm all alone in this. It helps me to know that I'm not alone, that all of you are moving forward with me.

Bino Manjasseril said...

Aida,

People invite others to their 'church' and bash them with law; and they have no problem with that. When we proclaim the grace and unconditional love of God, people get offended. Isn't that interesting?
I am pretty much convinced that grace cannot be taught but it has to be revealed. I am not diminishing the importance of teaching; but ultimately it has to be revealed by God. After all, who can know the things God unless it is revealed by Himself? I have struggled with many people time to time to make them understand the truth of Gospel and people even told me that I was blaspheming. I would still encourage you to share this message with anyone whom God brings your way; but leave the results totally unto God. I like Apostle Paul's Ephesians 1 prayer where he prays for others that the eyes of their heart may be enlightened in oder that they may know Christ...

Joel Brueseke said...

I think for many people, grace is only a "part" of the Christian life. There are the 'spiritual disciplines,' the 'Christian duties,' 'witnessing,' 'praying,' 'Bible reading,' etc, and then there is grace as well.

People will say that we're saved by grace, but yet they will add all kinds of biblical rules in order to 'maintain' salvation. Sure there's "grace" when we sin, but grace doesn't get much bigger than that.

And so we talk to people about living by grace, or we even simply mention the word "grace" and the above people seem to have a "grace nerve" somewhere within that automatically puts them in defense mode. They fear that too much grace will cause people to go out and be licentious, and we just can't have that! They say things like, "we need to 'balance' grace with truth." Grace may play a part in saving us, but we need the TRUTH! And what they mean by "truth" is... we need the truth of the law and of the spiritual disciplines and of Christian principles to tell us what is right and what is wrong. We need to read our Bibles and do what it says, and so on and so forth.

Well anyway, it goes on and on. :) The list of things that we need to balance grace with. So we can't have too much grace talk. People really do get very defensive and outright mean and nasty when you try to tell them that the true freedom that we have in Christ is only found in grace.

But as Bino says, it must be revealed to them. The Ephesians 1 prayer has a lot of great words for us to pray for other people!

Joel Brueseke said...

By the way, I'm sure you know what I mean when I say "so we can't have too much grace talk." I'm still referring to what other people think about grace.

I obviously think that we can't have too much grace talk. :-D

Aida said...

Bino, I agree that the truth about grace has to be revealed by God. I know that was true in my life. As I've shared before, when I first heard about grace, I wasn't hostile but I didn't understand it so I forgot all about it. Fortunately, Father didn't forget and, at the right time, he began to reveal it to me in a way that I could understand.

The truth is that we can't convince anyone and, until they're ready, they may be hostile. I suppose the best thing is to share but don't try to force it on them. If they're ready, it'll be obvious. From what Joel and others have said, if we share with a group and find one or two who are interested, that's good.

I must be getting over some sensitivity. At one time, I would have been very upset at being challenged the way I was and I would have pulled back but amazingly, this time it didn't bother me. I was surprised but not upset. I suppose the next time it happens, I'll still be surprised but I'm glad that the sensitivity seems to be going away.

People need to know about grace and, when we find someone who is receptive, it makes up for all who aren't.

Aida said...

"By the way, I'm sure you know what I mean when I say "so we can't have too much grace talk." I'm still referring to what other people think about grace.

I obviously think that we can't have too much grace talk. :-D"

Thanks for the clarification, Joel. I was hoping you weren't turning into one of those mean, nasty people who thinks we shouldn't talk about grace. LOL

Seriously, I think we all know you well enough to know that you believe the more people talking about grace, the better. After all, you and Bino were the ones who encouraged me to begin blogging and sharing about God's grace.