Saturday, June 6, 2015

Amazing Grace Isn't Selective

Grace is anything but comfortable. We all want it, but very few of us are willing to give it in the same manner that we desire it. The unfortunate thing about grace is that it is given freely to everyone (read: all of us) who need it, without reserve. Our human minds that ascribe levels to everything think that some are more or less deserving of grace depending on what they have - or haven't - done. But, that's limited, human grace. I don't serve a human god and I certainly don't serve a limited god, so that's just not how it works.

A few weeks ago, news broke that the eldest Duggar child had inappropriately touched some of his sisters.  Facebook was instantly flooded with people who lambasted the Duggar parents for not taking their son immediately to the police. Josh was called a child molester and pedophile, and much worse. Anyone who dared talk of grace was ridiculed. Whether or not the Duggar parents handled the more than decade old situation correctly, there was certainly no room for grace. Only punishment.

I hate to tell ya'll, but public scorn and media attention victimized those girls far more than their brother ever did. Anything like that is shameful, embarrassing. Can you imagine the whole world knowing every single detail of what happened and that abuse being written about, talked about, and played out on national television? Those girls have been harmed more in the last few weeks than anything that their brother did.

Now enter Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Some people who called for grace for Josh Duggar are spewing vile things on social media and withholding that same grace for Jenner. Others who called for Josh's head on a silver platter, say the only appropriate response to Jenner is love and grace.

My friends, this just cannot be.

You can tell me all day long that Duggar's sin has victims and Jenner doesn't have victims. You can tell me that Duggar's actions were actually a sin while Jenner is just confused. Or maybe you'll tell me that we don't really know what our reaction should be because the Bible doesn't say a thing - not one thing - about transgendered people. Well, it doesn't have a whole lot to say about child molesters, either (that's not support for pedophiles or a suggestion that incarceration isn't appropriate.)

Here's what I know beyond a shadow of a doubt. Bruce Jenner is deeply confused. The words that come to mind are sad, tragic, wounded. I feel so deeply for this man who is so uncomfortable in his own skin, that he had to create new skin to try and find comfort in. Not only did he go to great lengths to "change" his skin, he also had to splash it all over the front pages of every magazine, news paper, and internet story from here to kingdom come.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God did not make a mistake with Bruce Jenner. He did not put a female soul in a male body. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying that Jenner's struggle is not real. I believe that it is. But gender identity issues, I believe, are the result of a fallen, broken, sinful, hyper-sexualized society - just like so many other issues. Just because you feel it doesn't mean you give into it. That's truth whether we're talking about eating that second piece of cake or changing your gender.

I have so much compassion for Jenner. I can't imagine being that uncomfortable with yourself. I have compassion for his family. I mean for his children, his grandchildren.....he suddenly becomes what - Mom and Grandma? Even if they've also bought the lie that one can choose his/her gender, that change comes with a price.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jenner needs compassion and grace. Anyone spewing hatred towards him doesn't have a real concept of how much grace they have received.

Yes, Duggar broke the law. Jenner has broken no law. I get that. Anyone that is breaking the law deserves punishment. Victims deserve protection. I'm not denying any of that. What I am saying is that both Duggar and Jenner are products of a society that has made sexuality a god. Both are products of a society that says, "If it feels good, do it."

Punishment for crimes has to exist in a society. Without it, all of society would be in total chaos. BUT, even for that criminal who should be/was disciplined, grace, in all its scandalous glory, exists. When I was a child in AWANA I learned this definition of grace, "undeserved, unearned favor and kindness."

Favor, ya'll. Favor.

Favor and kindness for Josh Duggar. Favor and kindness for Bruce Jenner.

Gosh, yes. Favor and kindness.

Bruce Jenner will never be a woman. His DNA will forever be male. Surgeons can cut and re-build and make and Jenner will still be a "man-made woman." God didn't create Caitlyn Jenner and when he looks at Jenner's heart, he doesn't see Caitlyn. He sees a child he made in so much turmoil, confusion, and pain.

So, yes, ya'll. Pour out some love and grace for Bruce/Caitlyn Jenner. Love him. Pray for him. Beg God for the healing of his soul. The enemy has told him a great lie and he is so in need of understanding and grace. If we as Christians can't give him that, we don't really understand the God that we claim to serve.

And while you're at it. Go ahead and share some of that grace with Josh Duggar. Does he deserve it? Of course not. Do his crimes deserve punishment? Absolutely, yes. But, does he get grace? Yep. Just like you and me.

A lot more could be said about both Duggar and Jenner. We could talk a lot about their choices and the harm they have caused themselves and the hurt they have inflicted on others (even if you don't think it's to the same degree) We can talk about the church and the appropriate response to crime, abuse, and sexual and social perversion.We can talk about the implications that their choices have on our increasingly godless society and those are all discussions that we can and should have.

But, there's just no room for tearing down wounded people. Unless you are personal friends of these families, your opinion isn't all that important. What is important is how you walk out your faith - what you say and what you do. You don't get to choose who deserves grace or love - or at least you shouldn't. In Matthew 6, it says, "give and it will be given to you. pressed down, shaken together and running over, will be poured into your lap. For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.” That's talking about judgment and forgiveness. You'll find no forgiveness present in the absence of grace. Since I want grace "pressed down, shaken together, and running over" I guess I will apply that same rule to others.

That's not to say there isn't room for calling out sin. There absolutely is. Sin is sin and far too much damage has been done to our society by Christians keeping quiet about sin.  Jesus called out sin. We should call out sin and stand up - even if we're standing alone - for truth. But Jesus' purpose for calling out sin was always so that the sinner might be led to repentance. If your calling out sin isn't leading anybody to repentance, you're just a clanging symbol right out of I Corinthians 13. In the grand eternal scheme of things, once repentance has occurred, what Jesus sought, shed his blood and died for has occurred. The debt has been paid.

Maybe that's not comfortable for us. But, it just is. I once heard a pastor put it like this:
Think about a bull's eye. The center of the bull's eye is heaven. Anything outside the center mark is hell. Now think of the best person you have ever known. Someone shouted out Mother Teresa. So, the pastor asked, On a scale of 1 to 10 - ten being perfect where do you think Mother Teresa is? Ten is perfect. Ten is God. So she can't be 10, but where does she fall? Someone said "nine." Well, ten is the mark. Ten is the bull's eye. Ten is perfection, so she missed it. That puts her in hell. Then the pastor asked us to think of the worst person society has ever known. Someone else said "Hitler." The congregation decided that he was a one. He missed the mark by a lot more than mother Teresa. BUT, they both missed the mark. It took Jesus death on the cross to save them both. The punishment that Jesus accepted on behalf of Mother Teresa was exactly the same as the punishment he accepted for Adolf Hitler. So, without the grace of God that saves and transforms they both end up in hell. They both miss the mark. You either hit it or you don't, there is no almost. That's why we all need the saving grace of Jesus.

Grace isn't fair. Grace isn't selective. But, grace is amazing.

So, let it amaze you today!