Well, I’m not sure I can actually suggest there are any problems with God’s grace.  Seems kind of ballsie.

Grace. There is simply nothing that has affected me more than realizing everything I have is undeserved.  Oh yes—grace is PARAMOUNT to knowing Christ and I’m not trying to discredit it or downplay it. I’m trying only to lift up something else that can stand next to grace as a lovely little thing worth shedding some little light on.  Fair warning:  it doesn’t sound as nice and pretty as grace.  It rolls of the tongue in the same way “ugly stepsister” does.

{Obedience}

I recently had a darling three year old say to me, “Stace, I love you. You’re the second best thing I ever had!”  This is the same girl who, when she was a two year old, would say during a diaper change, “Stace, thanks for wiping me….EVERY TIME!”

Sometimes just hearing these simple, joyful things from the heart of a child is enough to make a girl go, “Wow–God, you are so very grace-giving and kind!”

But back to obedience….the ugly stepsister of grace, if you will.  Let’s be honest, it does not sound nearly as trendy as grace does.  Because it’s not as trendy as grace is.

Here is my take on what our current culture claims we should believe:

  • If it feels right to you, you should do it!  You only live once.
  • Follow your heart and don’t let anyone tell you you’re wrong for doing things like you choose.
  • “The right way” is relative based on a person’s background and beliefs.
  • Just trying to be good and do good is good enough.
  • To not accept everyone’s beliefs as right (at least for them) is to be unloving and judgmental.
  • It’s not our right to question how someone else is operating—this is a free country and we each get to do what we like without others critiquing our affairs.
Is anyone else ready to puke?

Now, hear me clearly.  I support people pursuing their dreams and getting to make their own decisions; and, I never support pushing ideas and beliefs down people’s throats.   There are elements of the bulleted points above that can be very good, but overall, this way of thinking doesn’t leave much room for a God who has created a loving set of guidelines to serve as our protection and roadmap to abundant life.  {The Bible}  We’re living in an “anything goes” world when God’s Word still says there’s only one true Way!

This past month I’ve been stumbling through the Old Testament, definitely leaning on a devotional guide from Moody Bible Institute to help me understand what the heck’s going on.  It’s beautiful to see the Lord, in this ancient text, establishing a trend that is still His vital heart beat today.  He says, in a much paraphrased way….

People– you are mine! I have chosen you and I love you. You’re special to me, and I want you to act in a way that is different than the people of the world who don’t know me yet.

Animal sacrifices, rules about cleanliness and uncleanliness, do eat this and never eat that…..these were all guidelines to help set God’s people apart from those not following God. That makes sense to me:  when you realize you are loved and chosen by God, your life choices should look a bit different than the people who haven’t jumped on the bandwagon yet.

Continuing my paraphrasedness, the Lord says,

I have parted seas for you.   I have plagued the people who stand in your way. I have brought about offspring to people well beyond the years of childbirth. I have given your people a king in just the way I said I would. I have done every single thing I said I would do, and it has ALL been in your best interest. I have a good track record going here, now for crying out loud—would you please trust me? Would you trust that I know what I’m talking about when I say ‘please don’t do that?’ and ‘please—it’d touch my heart if you did do this?’

Call me old-fashioned. Call me a Bible banger. :)  Call me judgmental, obnoxious, conceited, or rude. (Unless you agree with me, of course.)  I promise I’ll get over any hurt feelings for the sake of a great discussion.  I would like to suggest that seeking to obey the Lord is almost as sweet as receiving grace from Him.

When I see people who really love God and love others take a certain matter into their own hands, I get sad. I am not saying I am without sin (oh Lord, no!) but only that refusing to live the “set apart” way God asks us to is essentially announcing that we think our way is better than the way God declares is best…..does anyone else think that is a scary position to put ourselves in?!  Have we forgotten that God is holy, that in love He will judge all things because how could a loving God not judge all the sinfulness and wrong in the world?

It scares me when we, as people in the church today, become so very excited by the idea of free grace that we overlook the very important fact that this gracious God asks us to obey His wise words because we’re not any ol’ Joe or Sally.  We’re His. 

I’m not suggesting we marvel any less adoringly at God’s grace, but that we adore the practice of obedience, as untrendy as it is, even more.

We don’t follow the fancy offerings and sacrifices of the Old Testament because Jesus Christ changed the meaning of sacrifice forever, but we should still be in the practice of doing things differently than the world now that we are seen differently by God.  We’re daughters.  We’re sons.

If we do as we like, quite aware that something is not God’s way but letting ourselves be ok with that because we see God as all-loving and never correcting, judging, or rebuking–we’ve missed the boat.  Oh yes, He is all-loving, and His love is of the most mature and wonderful kind;  that is, like any good parent, He loves us too much not to help us see the truth.

I hope I could say that even if I never saw even one immediate, personal benefit from obeying God, I would still strive to obey Him.  {Why?  Because Jesus came, lived, died, and there was an empty tomb following his crucifixion!  The man ended His big stunt show on earth by conquering death!  That’s why!}  But the funny thing is…. we have a God who enjoys blessing His kiddos, and I’m struggling to think of even a single time I chose to obey God and it did not somehow benefit me later.

 

People, God withholds no good thing from those who trust Him and therefore obey.

He is asking holiness of us.  There is no doubt about that.

Be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.  {Leviticus 19:12}

Obedience brings good things.  There is no doubt about that.

Lord Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts you.  {John 20:17}

And always, always, always….for our most unholy times and slip ups…..there is grace.  There is no doubt about that!

It is by grace you have been saved, through faith.  And this is not your doing; it is the gift of God.

{Ephesians 2: 8-9}

 

Trusting and obeying (for there’s no other waaaaay!),

♥  stacy

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8 Responses to the problem with grace: part 1

  • Priscilla, Kelsey's mom says:

    It is interesting that you call obedience the “ugly step-sister” of grace. When I first started to lead as a Christ Follower, I used to call obedience, along with surrender, the ‘dreaded S&O”. In His is tender mercy and perfect timing He has shown me thru your wise words that I need to repent of this example and speak what is actually true about ‘S&O”: surrender and obedience are only as ‘dreaded’ as I make them. Lately I have experienced a fresh healing and maturity as I have embraced / leaned into / owned/claimed verses like James 1:1-3 and Romans 5:3&4, which have been sources of much self inflicted sorrow and resentment before now. Thank you LORD!

    It is impossible to honor God, whether by obedience or whatever, and not be blessed. I am regularly blown away by this fact. Thanks Stacy!

  • Stacy Blackwell says:

    Stacy, I found your blog and wandered upon this post. So encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear. Thanks for sharing the truth in love & obedience. I hope all goes well for you in Chicago :]

  • Kay Whan says:

    Well said! Too many “Christian’s” are too mushy about obedience and sanctification! Kay

    • Stacy says:

      I’m glad it resonated with you, Kay. It’s not really a fun thing to talk about….but it is so rewarding to watch the benefits of obeying pan out in our lives that I think we should be talking about it! :)

  • Stacy, good words. Here is more stuff about our walk w/Jesus. John wrote 3 little letters that are in the back of the NT. In 1John 2: 5-6 we read; “But if anyone obeys His word. God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in Him: Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did. ( Really!) Then there is 1 John 4: 17; “Love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment because in this world we are like Him. Not goin’a be, but now, thro His indwelling Holy Spirit. Take care, say HI to Ben. Bob. If you just want to respond thro f/b message that’s fine.

    • Stacy says:

      Thank you for adding to the conversation, Bob! I think the verses you’ve shared are spot-on. I appreciate your wisdom.

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