Saturday, June 21, 2008

grace is the word

This post is about how I first encountered the concept of Grace.. sorry if it's long.

I guess I should probably go ahead and tell you that I’m one of those stereotypical kids who was raised in a Southern Baptist house with “Southern Baptist” ways of thinking and a very conservative political stand point. When I was little, I was pounded pretty hard with the Christian morals and philosophies and what not, which I think is a good thing. My dad always told me that there were people out there who didn’t think the same way as me, but I never really knew any of them.

So, in elementary school I was for the most part surrounded by Christians and people who thought the exact same way as me and as everyone else in my family. It wasn’t until middle school that I really got to see anyone who thought differently than me. His name was Ted. At that point everyone called him Teddy, not really sure why, he doesn’t really look like a bear or anything. He is like 100% different from my family. My family isn’t real artsy, his family is. My family doesn’t read a lot of deep intellectual type stuff, his family definitely does. We love steak, not sure if he eats steak, but as liberal as he is, you’d have a hard time believing that he does. I don’t think he’s a vegetarian, but if he eats meat, it's like the little chocolate covered ants or something, not steak, and his family will definitely be voting for Obama not McCain (Although lots of republicans say that McCain is kind of liberal too, so I'm not sure that's a great example). So, throw all that together, put us in 6 classes together when there’s only 6 periods in a school day, and chances are you’ll have to talk at some point. I’ve known Ted for 6 years now, and we are still good friends. We’re not the types of friends to go spend the night at each other’s houses or anything, but we talk at school and stuff.

The first year and a half or so that I knew Ted, we just debated all the time. It didn’t matter about what, politics, religion, Shakespeare/Donald Miller, evolution, whatever, we were just always debating. Then, my dad was called into full-time ministry. That basically means he had to go to church all the time instead of going to a real job haha… He then discovered something. It is a little word that I can say now has really changed my entire life. It is called Marijuana… just kidding. No, seriously though the word is grace. This word has absolutely, without a doubt, changed my life forever. It has taught me to look at Christianity from a whole new perspective, but also to look at people who want nothing to do with Christianity differently. It has shown me that there is a way for people who have never been labeled “good” to actually stand a chance in the world. The concept of Grace has also been the single most influential idea in Grace Community Church's dream.

After I was introduced to this new concept of grace I started to look at my friendship with Ted differently. In the beginning I basically just thought the best way to "live for Christ" or whatever was to argue with him constantly. I thought if I could ever prove him wrong then maybe he'd suddenly believe Jesus was the son of God or something. Just so you know, that typically doesn't work. Typically if you argue with someone nonstop and eventually prove them wrong, they'll end up hating you. Thankfully that didn't happen with me and Ted. Once I understood the grace idea, I started just being his friend. I tried to stop arguing about big world changing concepts and just see how he was doing and what was going on in his life. Ted isn't a Christian, but he has started attending church at the Unitarian Universalists place, so that's an improvement.. haha just kidding. So even though Ted has not chosen to believe in Jesus yet, at least he knows one less Christian that's a jerk.

Here's what I think is sad though: I grew up in church and at church and under church and every other prepositional phrase ending with church that is possible, but it wasn't until I was 12 that I started being taught what it meant to live by grace. I still in no way understand it fully, but it took 12 years for me to even hear about it. So, I think that Christians need to stop talking so much about politics and judgment day and just start being nice to people.

That's pretty much a condensed version of my spiritual autobiography I guess.

7 comments:

  1. As the Dad mentioned in this very eloquent autobiography of your short life, I should probably explain. It was not that you weren't taught the concept of grace or that I didn't know what it was before you were 12; we just didn't practice it very well to the outside world. As a kid, you certainly needed lots of grace and were received lots of grace. If not, you would never have made it to the age of 12.

    ReplyDelete
  2. As the son of the man who posted the comment above, I would like to explain that what he said is true, i received much grace as a kid, but I never saw it in practice in a church setting or outside of our house. The terminology "living by grace" was completely new until i was 12. Thanks for your clarification there pops, for now on i'll send you my posts to proofread.. haha just kidding. see ya later

    ReplyDelete
  3. As the father of the son who commented on my comment to his post about grace, let me say that Nate (who just a few weeks ago was Nathaniel) required a lot of discipline in his early years of life. He received a lot of grace, but actions demanded discipline. Discipline is another great Biblical word.

    My philosopy is to give them discipline earlier; then they can enjoy sweet grace in years to come. Thanks for making my case Nate!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "For more from Ron Edmondson tune in to walking in the light here on WNKJ Christian radio."

    ReplyDelete
  5. This seems to be a criticizing post towards where you used to go to church. Grace is practiced in every church, no matter if it's pounded in or if things are just left alone to not be dealt with even when everyone knows they're wrong. I'm glad you now know what grace is, but the same people you're hearing it from now that have taught it to you were the same people you've heard it from you're entire life. I agree that everything doesn't need to be debated, but thats not just to be nice to people and stand on the wayside as they make the quick descent to hell. Just being nice doesn't get people to heaven, the Gospel and grace is what gets them there. So, there are different forms of grace.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hey anonymous,
    My response to your comment is in no way intended to start a debate or an argument, and I’m also not trying to pick on you by reposting publicly rather than emailing you privately. It’s just that if you post as an anonymous person, I can’t very well contact you privately. That’s not to pick on you though for posting anonymously, it’s just the very nature of an anonymous post. One more thing I’d like to add before I really start in on the serious stuff is that as a kid I always wanted an anonymous love note from a girl…so if this is from a girl…and you’re interested…

    If this was perceived strictly as criticism towards First Baptist then let me apologize. I’m not going to lie and say that I agree with everything that First Baptist or any church does, even my own for that matter, but the intention of this post was in no way to highlight my frustrations or disagreements with FBC. (Although now that you mention it, that would probably be a good post for me to write… just kidding…) Maybe I should write the one about frustrations with my own church first.

    You wrote: “Grace is practiced in every church, no matter if it's pounded in or if things are just left alone to not be dealt with even when everyone knows they're wrong.”

    I’m not 100% sure I know how to respond to that because I don’t fully comprehend what you are saying. Grammatically you made this very difficult to respond to. A comma here and there would be nice in some of the longer sentences. I like to read for comprehension rather than specific words and sometimes it’s hard when I can’t understand where a sentence is supposed to be broken up.

    I’ll do my best to respond based on the way I’m interpreting the sentence. Honestly I’m not sure that I agree that grace is practiced in every church. There may be examples where churches practice grace from time to time, but there are churches that exist that as a whole are not graceful. As for the 2nd part of this sentence I’m not sure I can depict the thought enough to respond, but basically I’m not sure grace can be “pounded”, I think that would be somewhat of an oxymoron.

    I also did not mean to make it sound as if once I left FBC suddenly my eyes were opened and I could see and understand grace. Like I said, I was 12 when this process began, and when I was 12 I was still attending and very active at FBC and would continue to attend and be active for over a year after that. My family was still attending FBC when we, as a family, began understanding what it meant to live by grace. I in no way was suggesting that there is no one at FBC who does not understand or practice grace. There are incredible people who attend FBC that I still have tremendous respect for.

    For the part about debating/not debating, I was not suggesting that as Christians our job is to just sit and talk to people and never bring up the Gospel. That would be a huge mistake! What I was suggesting was that it is the Kindness of God that leads to repentance. (Romans 2) Me telling someone how they’re going to hell before I have any relationship with them isn’t exactly fulfilling the great commission. So you’re right, just being nice to someone doesn’t help that person find eternal life, but neither does the Gospel nor grace. Choosing to accept the Gospel and the grace Jesus poured out is what gives a person eternal life. So there would be no difference in me just being nice to someone constantly and never mentioning the Gospel, and me just telling them the Gospel a thousand times a day, because ultimately it’s their responsibility to accept or reject the Gospel anyway. So being nice to people is the best way to ensure that you have the opportunity to share the Gospel with people and once you DO explain the Gospel to them they will actually take to heart what you are saying. Being nice to people is a very purposeful and powerful act.

    So to sum everything up, I did not mean in any way to be negative towards FBC or suggest that they refuse to offer grace or teach grace or whatever. The circumstances surrounding my family at the time are what caused me to learn about grace in such a real way. So, sorry for any confusion and I hope this better emphasizes my opinions towards your concerns. Please respond with any further questions and comments. Of course, you may continue to do so anonymously. I wouldn’t expect any more or less from you. Just at least please flirt with me a little when you do post a comment anonymously. It will fulfill a childhood desire. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete