Yeah, That’s Not Okay

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I listened to the podcast episode in frustration yet not in disbelief because I’ve experienced the bitter pain of church hurt myself. An author I’ve read and resonated with–even though sometimes we’ve disagreed–shared how her family was asked to leave the church they had finally settled in because of her writings.

Is this author on the progressive side of things? Yup. Does she have a fair share of questions and doubts? Absolutely. Had she been deeply wounded by religious Christians before this latest experience? Oh, yes. These are all the more reasons she had hoped to find a place of safety and grace as she rebuilt her fractured faith.

Unfortunately instead of grace, love, and understanding, she found condemnation, judgement, and rejection. Um, guys, there’s a serious problem with this!

If broken people can’t come to Jesus’ brothers and sisters for healing then where are they supposed to go?

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There is a deep issue within the church these days. (Many actually, but we will stick with just one for this post.) People have lost the Awkward Middle Way of grace AND truth and instead we have factions, wars, and sides.

Truth people might hold to the authority of Scripture–although often lacking context and appropriate hermmeneutics–but too often they also see in strict blacks and whites. They love right and wrong and push a list of correct behaviors without seeing the value of precious broken hearts.

Grace people love and accept lavishly–until you disagree with them–but often they are quick to interpret Scripture and historical Christianity through their own personal lenses of right and wrong. How they feel about something is what matters regardless of the way Christianity and the Bible has viewed that issue for the past two thousand years.

My biggest problem with these two sides is that neither of them is an accurate picture of Jesus Christ.

Jesus calls Himself The Truth in John chapter fourteen. He constantly spoke truth about God, about Himself, and about humanity. He didn’t sugarcoat things, and at times the truth He preached was offensive. But simultaneously Jesus was also filled with scandalous grace. He horrified the religious leaders by welcoming the outcasts–sinful and broken people they rejected as less–with open arms. Jesus walked the Awkward Middle Way perfectly.

And it is His example that I am striving to follow.

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What does this practically look like?

  • It looks like welcoming the questioning and doubting, listening closely to their heart, hearing their story, and empathizing with their experiences before offering ANY answers.
  • It looks like totally rejecting pat Christianese phrases or spiritual band-aids.
  • It looks like refusing to share a Scripture or pray a prayer until after we’ve made someone feel safe, heard, and loved.
  • It looks like being attentive to the Holy Spirit as we listen so that we will know when to share truth and how to say it gently.

Being people of grace and truth doesn’t mean that we don’t have a solid rock of truth that we stand on, but it also means we know when to keep our mouths shut and just listen. Shockingly, the Holy Spirit is even more eager to draw people to Himself than we are. 🙂 He doesn’t always need us to share everything we know. And often He uses the strangest little things to do His greatest work.

Friends, we live in a polarized, divided world and unfortunately people who call themselves Christians are in the dead middle of the problem. This. Is. Not. Okay.

WHAT IF WE CHANGED?

What if we Jesus Followers hold our beliefs, but hold them loosely enough that can can still love and accept people who disagree with us?

What if we became people who just ooze grace while still clinging to truth?

What if we made an intentional effort to find and listen to someone who disagrees with us each week? It could be a podcast, or book, or actual conversation. What if we did our best to see from their perspective even if we can’t find any common ground?

What if we began to practice being humble and gracious?

What if we recognized that leading people into the Kingdom of Jesus Christ is WAY more important than forcing them into our side of political or societal issues?

Jesus is the only One who can save people. And like I asked before, if broken people can’t come to Jesus’ brothers and sisters for healing then where are they supposed to go?

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9 thoughts on “Yeah, That’s Not Okay

  1. This is a breath of fresh air to me; I wonder if I heard the same podcast as you did (I will pm you so as to avoid publishing any names!) but I recently listened to a podcast (by a questioning, progressive, lady author who was chucked out of church) that left me feeling fed up and wondering, Is this really the state of the church today? How has it come to this? After hearing that podcast, I strongly feel that I will never go into another church ever again. While I appreciate your suggestion of finding someone to talk or listen to that we don’t agree with, I still find such a meeting to be too triggering. But Jesus is still working on me by His Grace, and is refining me bit by bit. Maybe one day I’ll have a meeting like that, but likely not for a while 😉

    Keep up the great work, Christy. I love your writing.

    • Thanks, Tony! You don’t have to find any scary religious people to dialogue with. 😆 But I still think it’s good to find people who will challenge our thinking. Echo chambers are not healthy as you know.

  2. Hi Christy, great post and I have commented. I wonder if the podcast you
    listened to was Phil Drysdale’s interview with Halley Kim?

    Cheers
    Tony

  3. Yes! “The Awkward Middle Way” is a perfect way to describe it. A spirit-filled blend of grace and truth applied to each individual. Not a man-made set of regulations meant to elevate a select few and exclude all others.
    Freedom, Christy. Thank the Lord we are finding freedom!
    Thank you for obeying the Lord. You are such an encouragement.

  4. The other thing is that because Grace and Truth are both embodied in Jesus. It is possible to embody both, because He did. I don’t agree that Grace people only love folks whom they agree with; in fact I think that true Grace people love everyone, just like Jesus loved the Pharisees. People who would claim to be Truth people while holding to the Bible are holding on to the wrong thing. I trust you get where this goes…only by holding on to Jesus can we be full of Grace and Truth like He was.

    Kinda gives the Bible a back seat, really… 😉

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