Do you watch the Amazing Race? My husband loves that show, and has recently been catching up on years of missed episodes. I don’t love it and here’s why: the bickering. Listen, if I want to hear people arguing, I’m perfectly capable of picking a fight myself. It stresses me out.
In one recent episode he was watching, I noticed that when groups found a clue, they would try to stealthily read and record information without other groups knowing. And that’s good strategy when you’re competing. If they were all on one team, when they found the clue they’d call out, “Found it!” so everyone could run over and see the information.
And that’s exactly what I’ve been noticing that both King David, and the Apostle Paul did in Scripture…and what we, as believers, are supposed to be doing.
We’re On the Same Team
I got my first “You’re closed minded and unloving” email in response to a couple of posts I wrote about (ironically) the myth of Christians being unloving, and the judgement-free church. I think it’s Dennis Prager who says that agreement isn’t his goal, understanding is. Disagreement doesn’t phase me much , but clear communication is what I’m all about. As long as someone understands what I’m trying to say…agree, disagree, it’s up to you.
So I wondered, am I communicating clearly?
You don’t know me except for what I write, so why should my perspective on things matter? I’m not of the opinion that we need to air all of our failings or foolish choices out for the world to see. Not only is it not necessary, I think it can be counterproductive. But I do think we need to be honest with one another, and share when we’ve gone on a wrong path. After all, we’re on the same team, and if we’ve found a right path we should tell our teammates.
What is the Effect of Grace?
In Psalm 51, which David wrote after being convicted of his sin with Bathsheba, we see him seeking to be restored to a right relationship with God. But he doesn’t stop there. After begging for God to restore him, he says,
..then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you.
A wise lady I know, who had gone through a painful season of life, told me that she talked about it because if she didn’t, then it happened for nothing. She was finding purpose in her suffering. She was showing people the right path that she’d found.
Paul, who had not just rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah but had gone out of his way to persecute believers, said this:
His grace to me was not without effect.
That’s a short phrase, but carries so much meaning. His grace to me was not without effect. What was the effect of God’s grace on Paul’s life? A completely changed life. A light for the path of others. Passion that burned to keep others from walking the same, wrong path he had.
Friends, when I write that we need to watch out for deceit, it’s because I have been deceived. And like Paul, I can say that God’s grace to me was not without effect. One day I’ll share my story with you. For today, know that it’s a story of great sin and even greater redemption. Fear, inadequacy, and forgiveness. And the thought of someone else stumbling in the dark…Oh if I could keep one person from walking the path I did!
When I say that the church needs to take seriously our mission to reconcile the world to God and challenge each other to lives of faith… it’s not because I think we should be out preaching condemnation. But that we need to weep over the sin that the church has allowed and even affirmed. And in that grief, we love on those living in sin and call them to a life of victory and peace, and offer a hope of life eternal. Because how callous to leave them in their sin.
Like David. Like Paul. Like any good teammate. When you find the right path, you don’t hide it. You shine a light on it for those coming behind. Many times you even go back and hold their hand to walk it together.
Can we disagree on the best way to do that? Of course. But let’s be sure we’re on the same path.
Has God’s grace to you had an effect?