Monday, November 06, 2006

Amazing... Grace-less

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like... Ted Haggard.

That great hymn is likely one of the best known hymns in the world. Even movies and TV portray religious people singing this song when they show a "church" scene.

It's interesting to me how quick we "wretches" are to condemn when others fall into sin. While the media is having its hey-day with Ted Haggard and his sin, Christians are having their own shark fest with him too. We seem to forget the Apostle Paul's words after his long list of sins that prevent people from inheriting the Kingdom of God - "...and such were some of you."

This past weekend, my church began a series in the book of Jonah. We all remember him as the guy who tried to run from God. Few of us remember why. Chapter 4 gives us the answer. Jonah knew that God was compassionate, full of mercy and grace, and would forgive the Ninevites if they repented. They did, and He did. Jonah had a grace-less heart.

One of my favorite scenes in "Walk the Line" is when Johnny Cash is going to sing in prison and his agent doesn't want him too. His agent says "There are a lot of Christians who support your music and they don't like the idea of you going into the prisons." Cash's response is perfect... "Well then, maybe they're not Christians."

Please understand, I believe that sin is ugly. I believe that as pure worship rises to God as sweet smelling incense, the stench of sin rises to Him like the smell of a dead animal rotting under your house. It is especially tragic when one who is preaching against specific areas of sin is secretly practicing those very sins.

However, grace is the theme of the church. It's the song we sing. It's the one of the few things we have to offer the world (along with the very presence of God living through us). I wonder... will those watching Christians attack pastor Haggard will see grace? Would they see grace in how we treat the homosexual community Haggard preached against, yet was alledgedly enmeshed in?

It seems to me that what they need to see is sorrow over the destructiveness of sin; and prayer for all those who will pay for the sinful choices.

If the words of the song are true, then we have no choice but to extend that same grace to others. After all, our namesake - the One we follow does. And boy, am I glad.