Monday, 20 February 2012

A Graceful Balance


I spent the afternoon yesterday with a small group and spoke to a guy there at some length about John Crowder (and others like him, I'm not singling him out except that he is very prominent at the moment). This guy is, as many are, of the impression that they are grossly deceived and heretical in their doctrines, but his biggest indicator of error was about what he had seen of the fruit of those people.

(After publishing this post, I saw a clip of John Crowder that explains a lot of things I was questioning about him, check it out here)

Unfortunately, I had to agree, especially that many are aggressive and patronising and present a glibness, that all they care about is being "whacked" by God so tweak theology to fit that experience and too bad if you don't get it! There's a sense that all the worlds problems can be solved by pretending they don't exist. Now I know and agree with the the joy of the finished work of Jesus, but I'm talking about an overly simplistic arrogance that denies the heart of those who struggle and suffer.

So, I found myself having to cut through all that to get to the essence of the "grace" message. After much discussion (which was very good natured despite being passionate) we found we actually agreed on many issues. The interesting thing is a lot of the differences come down to semantics. Things like what we each mean by righteous, holy, sanctified etc and concepts like hungering after God, walking in brokenness and letting our weaknesses be our strength, comforting the broken hearted and mourning with those who mourn.

After a while he saw that we are mostly seeing the same things from a different angle, but here's the thing. His hunger and passion for Jesus and his experience of the Father's heart was already there, he understood what it is to not be bound by law and religion.

There are many brothers and sisters in this place, and in our zeal to express the incredible revelation of Father's unconditional love, and the finished work of the cross, we assume no one else gets it, and everyone else is in bondage to the old covenant. We have taken the wonderful truth of the gospel of grace and made it elitist, to the point where we are arrogant and refuse to see that many others, who didn't have the same issues with bondage to religion and legalistic striving, already understand, but don't use the same terminology, have the same paradigms, culture etc - they aren't a member of our club!

So the very unity, love and passion for Jesus we are trying to convey is destroyed by our elitist arrogance. I love so much of John Crowder's teaching, but the elitist "club" attitude hurts me. I don't have a problem with people getting whacked in the spirit, but we always have a choice about where and when and how appropriate it is any given setting. We also have a choice about the emphasis on glibly claiming our blessings or letting it just be a natural overflow of our intimacy with Him. In the middle of all my joy and love for Jesus, and my hunger for Him, I can still relate to the reality of those around me, walk with real empathy and trust that Father will quietly and efficiently meet any needs at any time in any way.

From all this, I'm realising more that we can just be gracious in how we present the grace message and we don't have to prove anything. If we are showing the fruit of our intimacy, that's more important than the message itself!