A church that is strong in grace is attractive for many reasons, not the least of which is the absence of legalism.
Just as most non-Christians don’t understand the good news of Christ, most Christians do not understand the remarkable reality of grace. I know of no activities more exhausting and less rewarding than those of Christians attempting to please the people around them by maintaining impossible legalistic demands. What a tragic trap, and the majority of believers are caught in it.
When will we ever learn? Grace has set us free! That message streams throughout the sermons and personal testimonies of the apostle Paul.
Author Steve Brown says that some people think legalistic churches are as bad as grace-oriented churches. But, as Brown puts it, the two are no more alike than a taxidermist and a veterinarian. Some would claim, “Well, either way you get your dog back!” True, but in one setting your dog collects dust and never moves. In the other, he’s busy barking and eating and jumping . . . he’s ALIVE! He’s the real thing! The point? Let’s choose to be veterinarians. Let’s determine that our churches will be places of grace.
A church of grace is alive, positive, joyful, anticipating God’s work, willing to risk, free of judgmentalism . . . but make no mistake—the church of grace is not free of holiness. There’s a vast difference.
Once people have trusted in Jesus for the forgiveness of sins, we need to release them. Release them into the magnificent freedom that grace provides. I don’t mean leave them alone without biblical instruction or guidance. I mean, rather, don’t smother them with a boatload of non-biblical rules and rigid regulations that put them on probation. Don’t lock them up in some holding tank until they “get their lives straightened out.” Rules about what to wear, what to look like, what to eat and drink, what entertainment to enjoy, what movie-ratings Jesus would watch . . . . Please. That’s a straitjacket of religious bondage! That’s not a contagious place. It’s a frightening place. It’s bondage!
The day a church stops being strong in grace is the day the church loses its magnetism. Truth sets people free, remember?