There does seem to be a season breaking out among Christian writers and scholars...a season that seeks to help folks get out from under the burden of trying to be a "Good Christian" by achieving a some arbitrary level of sanctification judged by inner and outer legions of Simon Cowells.
You really CANNOT live like that! It's soul death. Spiritual suicide. Social poison. Prison.
But I cannot help wondering about how often I dole out forged permission slips to myself (and anyone I feel led to "bless" with my generosity <insert my rolling eyes here>) in the name of Grace.
You know...kinda like this...
I, Anne Bosworth, give myself permission to:
- Be a total butt because I'm (choose all that apply) discontent, depressed, ill, unemployed, overworked, under-paid, under-valued, under-appreciated, PMS-ing, mourning, moving, entitled by Steve Brown's book, free in Christ, incapable of perfection, breathing, only human, a sinner saved by grace, ME, wounded, abused, healing, confused, misguided, misunderstood, unfortunate, broke, broken, the product of alcoholic parents, incapable of anything better, unschooled, unchurched, unloved, in transition, living as an alien prisoner... (you get the idea)
- Only love and act kindly toward people I like today because (see above, add reasons as you are led)
- Justify my bad behavior because (just stick in any reason since it's all about you, choose from the reasons above, whatever) and because I just feel like it.
- Basically do whatever the heck I want without question, or accountability, or guff from (insert names of people, organizations, or government agencies here)
I could go on longer, but I think the point has generally been made. And it's not that I'm wanting to speak back to anyone out there who is preaching, teaching, advocating, or otherwise pleading for more grace in this world (for ourselves and others). NOTHING could be further from the truth!
My problem is really with ME, and my arbitrariness...my sliding scale of sin tolerance...my Plank & Speck mentality. At what point do even my best reasons for being...well...a jerk warrant a revoked permission slip, and maybe even a serious dope slap?
I mean, at what point have I gone overboard on being generous and patient with myself and stepped into the matrix of dangerous narcissism? How many people am I allowed to offend, hurt, disappoint, betray, ignore, reject, abandon, dump on, abuse, walk over, stomp on, etc before it's my job to belly up to the responsibility bar and just...just...
Grace is good! Grace is really, Really, REALLY, REALLY GOOD!!! I want grace. I need grace. I feel very much compelled and commanded to demonstrate grace early and often to as many folks as come my way in search of it...and maybe even people beyond that. I'm not suggesting that any of us should give up on giving (or receiving) grace.
No. No! No!! NO!!! Warning! Warning! Danger, Will Robinson!!!
Of course we need to cut ourselves and others some slack. This life ain't easy, and we sometimes fall apart as part of God's remodeling process at work in us. He tears us down to build us back up and make us stronger. For sure! Definitely!
And undoubtedly some of that tearing down comes by way of letting us head plant into sin. I get that! I've been that...as recently as 5 minutes ago!
But seriously...if I know I'm making a steady diet of spiritual Goober and Raisinets, or if I know that I'm convincing myself that it's actually a healthy, gracious diet of nuts and raisins...I mean...c'mon...really?
Surely there comes a point when I'm responsible for going Linda Richman on myself, realizing that I have schpilkas in my ginechtigazoink. I need to give myself a topic to tawk amongst myself. Discuss...
Goobers...Raisinets...they're neither healthy nor gracious...they're deer shit!
What I mean is that it's pretty lame (not to mention dangerous) to let the freedom I have to sin, or the weakness of my flesh, or the downright selfishness of my heart pose as grace incognito. It's bogus, and I know it. I'm thinking ya can't use your "free sins" for that crap.
If I'm hurting people recklessly and I know it...I'm responsible for getting humble and making it right. If someone asks for me for grace, or help, or forgiveness and I'm withholding it...YIKES!
I really do hit rock bottom emotionally sometimes. People really do clean my clock with their needs, mistakes, sins, stuff, and betrayals. I truly need an injury timeout to get quiet and seek God for healing. But I have to do it...purposefully, actively.
And it's not an indefinite thing, or like I get to pull a mom card and go all "Because I said so!" on folks who ask me what's up with my drama. Ewww! That's not seeking healing. That's kinda...well...rogue rage. Just sayin'...
And the TV timeout gig? The one where I take a break to sell myself on the idea that I'm entitled to be a butthead?
I dunno. I've certainly taken in more than my share of those cheap spiritual ad campaigns, but...to be honest...
All those "TV Timeouts" ever did was delay the game...delay the grace...delay the growth...delay the giving...delay the receiving. Again...just sayin'...