(Editor’s note: This article was written by Dr. Tim Kimmel/Family Matters and powered by iDisciple.)

My observation is that us “evangelicals” talk out of both sides of our mouth when it comes to grace. Our track record is that we have a fairly limited view of the grace of God. We’re quick to offer grace to someone looking for salvation and then have grief waiting for them once they’ve handed their life over to Jesus.

Let me speak in very simple terms. I think the average evangelical “gets” grace when it comes to saving grace. But once a person has put their faith in Jesus, we distill what follows down to a checklist of acceptable behavior. This obviously pollutes our relationship with God, but it also pollutes our relationship with the people closest to us.

If we think we’re on a performance basis with God, then we’re going to put our spouse and our children on a performance basis by default. After a while of realizing that they never measure up, the kids (and sometimes even the spouse) figure, “What’s the use?”

This flawed view of a relationship with God is the way of life within so many of our churches. This may explain why people come to our churches looking for hope but don’t choose to stay connected after they see all of the Pharisaical baggage we add to the mix. Trust me, I’m a recovering legalist. I was raised in that world.



With this in mind, may I present to you “The Grace List.” It’s a contrast between two ways of relating to God. Take a good look at this list, and then let’s start talking together online. Let’s explore whether or not it describes the prevailing problem that holds back so many Jesus followers from truly dialing in on the power and presence of God.

The Grace List
The obedience-based life vs. The grace-based life
You live to impress God vs. You live to trust God
A performance vs. A relationship
A duty vs. A delight
Predictable vs. Fluid
Promotes fear vs. Promotes faith
Creates worry vs. Creates calm
Masked vs. Transparent
Critical spirit vs. Compassionate spirit
Sense a lot of guilt vs. Sense a lot of freedom
Inclines you toward pridefulness vs. Inclines you toward humility
Outside-in management vs. Inside-out surrender
For “church” people vs. For everybody
More natural vs. More supernatural
Focuses on being good vs. Focuses on being connected
Lends itself to self-righteousness vs. Lends itself to organic obedience

One of the worst enemies of grace is working overtime to be good for wrong reasons. Does this list accurately contrast the greater relationship problem between a believer and the Lord? Does this list accurately contrast the greater relationship problem between a believer and the people he or she loves (like their spouse or children)? In what ways? Are there any other contrasts that come to your mind?

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