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.


Jennifer said...

It's always easier to attack someone else who has had a secret sin exposed...that way, the focus is off of ourselves. It makes me sad that those of us who should be ambassadors of Christ are often the most grace-less. But I also have hope...I think that many churches are beginning to realize that showing and living in grace is one of the great ways to help others understand who Christ is and why He chose each one of us.

Brad said...

A recent article in Christianity Today discuses the use of Lament in worship. Michael Card said "Lament is the lost language of worship."

Is there room for celebration/praise? Is there room for some good old baptistic waling and gnashing with ashes and sackcloth as an act of worship? What about garment rendering (sp)?

Oh what a wretch I am...

At what point do we drop our "community of celebration" and take on the ugly chore of making our individual, filthy rags an icon for the condition of our depraved hearts?

I wish I knew the answers...


amithpulla said...


I agree with you that, how quickly we "wretches" tend to condemn others for their sin. Sometimes we become victims of our own self-deceit and self-righteousness and fail to extend the grace. All these years, much of the church tried to distance and distinguishing itself from the homosexual community, and failed to reach out to them with love and grace. May be this incident is an awakening for the evangelicals!

The power to conquer sin comes only from Jesus, and I don’t expect the world to overcome sin without Jesus. We need to reach out with the power and message of Christ, with real compassion and love, not by trying to change the policies and laws.

michelle D. said...


Brad said...

Dean thanks for stopping by we-is...

Yes, (historically speaking) the first haikus were rather urbane and base:

By Basho

As my father lies
dying, I wait in the dark
and go on farting

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