Grace Is A Dirty Word Part 1
*What you are about to read is the introduction to my book, Grace Is A Dirty Word. I put this together as an ebook about 3 years ago. It was the first free download I ever offered on my blog. Recently I updated it and am making it available for free for the next few weeks when you subscribe to my blog. You can get it on amazon after that in paperback or on Kindle.
I used to think grace was a dirty word. It was something that needed to be explained if you were going to talk about it. Sometimes it was avoided altogether when sharing from the stage, so no one got the wrong idea about the kind of Christian I was.
Have you ever felt something similar about grace? Maybe your church culture focused on holiness, standards, and truth to such an extreme that it made talking about grace a little uncomfortable. For many, this is a foreign concept. But those stuck in a performance-oriented faith will know what I mean.
If your first assumption when you hear someone talk about grace is they are making an excuse for compromise, or if you don’t know what to do with the idea of grace after salvation, then I encourage you to continue reading.
One of the reasons I considered grace a dirty word, is because I thought people who celebrated grace were out of balance. It seemed they only used the word to justify a life of sin. If you didn’t love holiness as much as I did, then you probably practiced “greasy grace.”
Where did the phrase “greasy grace” come from? I don’t know, but it sounds like something that leads to all kinds of slimy wickedness and makes the devil grin.
Don’t get me wrong. I liked grace. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I thought too much of it was unhealthy. I guess it was like spiritual ice cream. It tastes good, but too much will give your soul a bellyache. I celebrated God’s grace at the moment of salvation, but things got confusing after that.
I didn’t want to be guilty of taking advantage of grace in the same way an older kid may con a younger one into trading a valuable baseball card for a handful of throw-a-ways. It was almost like I was approaching grace in a guarded way as not to accidentally take more than I deserved. The assumption here is that at some point, I could earn what I had.
There was no “Sloppy Agape” for me at the theological dinner table. I’ll just have a little grace by myself after dinner when no one else is around. Because let’s face it, whether we want to admit it or not, we all continuously need the grace of God. We may not want to give it out and may even publicly warn against getting carried away with, but we’re all counting on it being there when we need it ourselves.
The lack of the grace of God in my life caused me to live exhausted and hurting. I was also a drag on others. The impossible standard I was trying to maintain meant I was not good enough for myself, and neither was anyone else. I felt it was my duty to keep everyone accountable and to maintain an external religious rigor that was tearing me up inside. I was God’s hall monitor of truth. That guy may feel like he has more power than anyone else but usually sits alone at the launch table. #persecution
In reality, I was abusing grace by not taking advantage of it, which is something that probably did make the devil grin.
Grace became this dirty word that made me feel like I was not grateful to God. I felt like I was disrespecting God every time I needed forgiveness. Something God had given me for my benefit became something wrong to use.
Fuel for Our Faith
Eventually, I was honest with myself and admitted avoiding grace wasn’t working for me. I wondered, “Why don’t I pursue it a little bit and see what happens?”
Taking this first step was when the magic started, and it is why I wrote this book.
Many of us begin with grace but leave it at the start of our race. As a result, we become discouraged before the finish line. We can’t make it through this marathon of faith if we think grace is a dirty word.
In this book, I share eight common misconceptions about grace. Most of these come from my own struggle to embrace grace along with a few other observations I have made along the way. I hope they all help you run your race well.