Loving others “to that grace,” or, the gospel in modern-day shoes
In my vision, I am standing before the judgment seat of Christ. His warm, piercing eyes see right into my heart, and He’s asking me one question: “What did you do with my lambs?”
It was a comment on a recent post about going to Starbucks that simply nailed it. “See, the ‘principle’ mentality too often comes from a mentality that thinks we need to be a testimony of better morals instead of a testimony of grace through the gospel. The one comes across as ‘better than thou,’ but the other comes across as, ‘Where you are, I once was; where I am, by God’s grace you can (be), too,and I am going to love you to that grace.’”
When I read it aloud to my husband, he said, “That’s it! That’s excellent.”
It was written by a gentleman in response to a couple of people who stated that they simply could not support the chain, no matter what. That there were other places to have “Bible studies and mentor someone.”
“You are right,” I said. “There are. It’s not about the company, it’s about the people who gather there. If I refuse to go there because of my ‘principles,’ then I will never meet or reach those for Whom Jesus died…who are hanging out at Starbucks.”
Principles, closely held, and grace.
If you’ve followed me for any length of time, you’ll know that I have a prodigal son. Since it is his story, I won’t give you the details, but it does involve substance abuse and a hard-drinking, immoral, self-centered life. In spite of it all, our love for him has been unconditional and unwavering even as our hearts have broken into pieces the size of ground glass–and then shattered again. Yet all the while, that love.
God has used my beloved prodigal to shatter so many preconceptions I once had about Him, about myself, about how He lives and loves and what He wants from me. It took a great breaking down to demolish old strongholds before, at long last, He brought the good part–the building up of me.
The ‘principles,’ as defined by the old dos-and-donts, the cans-and-cants, the laws and regulations prescribed by others, no longer rule me. I live in the power of the Holy Spirit, and I walk in (capital L)Love. It is the love of Christ that constrains me, that compels me to work in tandem with Him in His never-ending quest to save to the uttermost those who are lost.
Because it’s the love of God that keeps me, I am able to go anywhere that He directs without violating my conscience and without fear that God will be upset. Including bars with prostitutes. Including Buddhist temples where people are bowing before golden idols. Including a strip joint. Including Starbucks. I am willing to “give my money” to such places…
Because of the people who are there. People just like my son who are needing to be “loved to that grace.”
If every Christian in our son’s town of Austin, Texas, never leaves the Sunday School room, never ventures outside of their safe, “clean,” church-approved places, they will likely never meet my son. Oh, how I long for one of God’s children to run into my son. How I long for someone nearby to “love him to that grace.”
One day, you may be the parent of a prodigal. I hope it won’t happen to you, but if it does, I pray that God will send someone (someone like me?) to the places where he/she goes and will shine the light of Love to your child. I pray one of God’s kids will come along at just the right time and “love them to that grace.”
Trembling, I consider what my answer will be. “Lord, I stuck to my ‘principles.’ I did not go to the rough and dirty places. I kept my own hands clean.” Then I heard a great Voice saying, “And now these three remain–faith, hope, and love, but the greatest of these is love (I Cor. 13:13).”