Friday, June 22, 2007

grounded in grace

I have to wonder sometimes if some of the problems we see among us Christians as to thinking badly about each other as to our theology/beliefs and life/practice is in part in many cases, because we're not sufficiently grounded in the grace of God in Christ.

When I came to the blog world, I was taken back greatly by the diatribes I regularly ran into of Christians against other Christians. I believe much of the problem lies in the fact that those attacking others (and then there can be counterattack, unfortunately!) have not listened well, or more likely, at all to the others. The only way you listen to the others is by hearing them out. You aren't listening if you pull this and that sentence/remark out to prove your point against their position.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote (in Life Together) that those who do not listen to their neighbor do not listen to God either. And to fail to listen to each other can end up being the death of the spiritual life.

I am learning to listen much better, though I have plenty of room to grow in that. I do believe that if we live in the love of God in Christ, then we'll seek to put the best construction on what people say and do, while if in dialogue, asking appropriate questions if we have any concerns or issues theologically and in praxis/practically.

I have to say sadly that some Christians who make the most out of "grace" are often the most graceless. Grace in Christ is always paired with truth. But truth bereft of grace is no longer truth at all, but has the stench of hell on it.

So much for my own little diatribe today. I will say that clearly none of my links of blogs has any scent like this whatsoever. They come from many theological perspectives in Christendom. But the common denominator they each have is a clear stance for truth and love wedded together in the grace that is in Jesus Christ. God help us to grow and live in that, grounded in the grace of our Lord.

6 comments:

Allan R. Bevere said...

Ted:

Thanks for this important reminder. We tend to think that graciousness means that we cannot take stands on issues or disagree with one another. I have a great concern that tolerance in our culture has moved from "I don't agree with you, but I support your right to your view," to "If you simply disagree with me, you are being intolerant."

I think this has also led to the great lack of graciousness we see when there is disagreement. If disagreement is intolerance, why not just scream, yell, and insult?

But you remind us that it is possible for us to have convictions, express them, and disagree with one other, and do so in a grace-filled way. Christians of all people should understand this.

As John Wesley said, "In the essentials unity, in the non-essentials diversity, in all things charity.

Thanks!

Ted Gossard said...

Allan, Great point and quote from John Wesley.

It's a great testimony to the world if they see that our differences are in a way beside the point in comparison the unity in the love and truth we have in Christ by the Spirit. The world needs to see that and we need to practice it.

Thanks.

HALFMOM said...

Great post! Once of my favorite scriptures in thinking about graciousness is actually from James 3:17,18 speaking about the "wisdom from above". I think it's the King James that says that it is "easily entreated" which sounds to me like someone who is an excellent active listener - gracious and gentle even though their stand on any given point may, in the end, be unwavering.

Ted Gossard said...

Halfmom, Hi. Thanks.

Yes, I agree. Some of those KJV renderings stick out to me, and you remember.

To be an excellent, active listener. I like that. In other words, for me, it's the first thing I want to DO. And then maybe I'll have something to say that is helpful afterwards.

Every Square Inch said...

Ted,

You are so right on this one. Thanks for the reminder. It's also sad to observe that there is much lack of grace in blog conversations.

I know from my own life that the lack of grace towards others comes from a failure to understand the grace shown to me by God.

Ted Gossard said...

ESI, Good point. As we know God's grace in our lives we should apply that to others, like in the parable where the servant is forgiven the huge debt but fails to forgive his own fellowservant who has the much smaller debt. Then Jesus ties forgiveness of sins into that and God's action being the same towards us if we fail to give as we have received.