The gospel of grace is not a philosophy to debate or a lifestyle to adopt. It is the power of God that saves those who receive it.
Grace is God blessing us for no other reason than he loves us. The good news reveals that the grace that sets us free is entirely free – there’s nothing to pay because Jesus paid it all. But buy into this message of grace and you will surely pay in other ways. You may experience rejection, hostility, and possibly persecution.
Talk about grace and you’ll experience trouble. Some people can’t handle it. But what you may not appreciate is how much of that trouble comes from those who claim to know God. Look at how much trouble Jesus experienced at the hands of religious people.
Remember this: Servants don’t get better treatment than their masters. If they beat on me, they will certainly beat on you. (John 15:20, MSG)
An example: on any given day I receive messages warning me to stop telling people about grace. This is normal. Tell people about the goodness of God, and you will get pushback, especially from religious bullies.
Dealing with nasty comments is a tiny cost for telling people the good news of God’s grace. Here are eight more serious ways that you may pay a price:
1. Preach grace and you will encounter intimidation
You will be told that you are confused and in error. You’re unbalanced. You don’t know the scriptures and the whole counsel of God. You’re too young. You’re a woman who should shut up. You haven’t been to Bible School. You don’t know how to parse Greek verbs. How could you possibly know more than the man of God?
2. Preach grace and you will be condemned by those who don’t see it
You will be warned, scorned and rebuked. You will be hit with Jude 1:4 again and again and told you are leading people to hell. Thinking they are doing the Lord’s work, leaders will name and shame you from their pulpits. Some of them will write books and articles about you. You’ll be called a wolf in sheep’s clothing, a snake, a Jezebel, an instrument of Satan, an antichrist.
3. Preach grace and you will be rejected
Bet your life on grace and you will be shunned by those who are trusting in works. Since you represent a threat to their merit-based system, you will be labeled divisive – which is the religious equivalent of wearing a scarlet letter. You’ll be marginalized, ostracized and asked to leave. Although you will be enjoying the Lord’s acceptance, you’ll be rejected by people you care about.
4. Preach grace and it will cost you opportunities to minister
You’ll be kicked off the worship team, the preaching team, and the hospitality team. Having fallen into “heresy”, you’ll be asked to take time off to assess your position. People will promise to pray for you, as though you were lost and in need of saving. Fail to fall back the line and you’ll become radioactive. You’ll be discussed in private meetings and emails. Doors will close. Calls will not get returned.
5. Preach grace and it will cost your reputation
Jesus was slandered, Paul was slandered, and you’ll be slandered. (You’re in good company!) You’ll be labelled licentious, anti-law and a closet sinner. You’ll be dismissed as hyper-grace, as though that were a bad thing. Your words will be taken out of context and used against you. You’ll be stalked on social media. You’ll be hounded out of conversations and denominations. Your character will be assassinated by everyone from two-bit bloggers to theologians with more degrees than a thermometer.
6. Preach grace and it will cost you money
If you used to preach tithing as an obligation and now you don’t, your church’s income may go down. It shouldn’t, but it will. Stop telling people they have to buy protection or provision from God, and they might use their money for other things, like rent and groceries. You may have to rethink your finances. You might have to get a second job.
Interlude: There are no tiny violins playing here, and I didn’t write this to solicit sympathy. I wrote it so that you may enter the halls of God’s grace with eyes wide open. Jesus said those who followed him would experience trouble and for the 21st century believer, this is what trouble looks like. It could be worse. You could be living some place where they kill or imprison Christians.
I have heard hundreds, if not thousands of testimonies illuminating the different ways people pay for grace. The penalties I have listed come up again and again. In addition, here are two less common ways you may suffer for trusting in the radical grace of God.
7. Trust grace and you may have trouble trusting Christians
You may find it hard going to church because you are no longer able to tolerate toxic churchianity. You can no longer sing the faithless songs of longing or listen to messages that put price tags on the blessings Jesus paid for. Although you crave the family life that church should be known for, you’re turned off by the constant calls for more. Even with the purest of hearts, you’ll become wary and guarded.
For the sake of unity, you may decide to shine a light and lead by example. In other words, you’ll keep your mouth shut and not rock the boat. Even so, you may find yourself disconnected from the fellowship you once enjoyed. Conversations become superficial, and friendships task-based. You may feel like you’re on a different page because you are on a different page.
8. Trust grace and it may cost you your family
Grace has made many marriages and families stronger, but there are no guarantees. Sadly, a small proportion of marriages and families have been strained by this message. Truth is divisive. When some people receive it while others don’t, the result can be painful.
God’s grace is amazing – it is the best news in the world. His grace is 100% free, yet you may pay a price for it. This cost is never charged by the Lord; it is levied by those who don’t fully appreciate all that Jesus did for us.
I’ve listed eight ways you may pay for free grace. What did I miss? What price have you paid? I would especially love to hear from you, especially if you are a pastor or church leader. Has the good news of free grace cost you? If so, feel free to share the brief version (2-5 sentences) of your story below.
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