My sister in law, a long time and devout Christian believer who I used to (not so lovingly) refer to as “The Baptinista” in my atheist days, sent me a link this morning. She knows I am here in Memphis at The Great Emergence event and that I am unsure why. She does not know much about the premise of the conference or the content of the emergent conversation. She is a Chuck Swindoll gal and gets his daily devotional. As I read what she sent, it I thought two things.
It is true that there is nothing new under the sun…yet sometimes things need to be reinvigorated.
This may be communicated differently to different people across generational and process divides, but the call is coming from all corners to reconsider how things are being done. I hold out hope that we can do it as a unified intergenerational family.
I am pasting the piece below in full, so please pardon the length of this post.
December 5, 2008
by Charles R. Swindoll
Romans 6:14 NLT
My hope has been to create an appetite for grace that is so strong nothing will restrain us from pursuing the freedom and spontaneity it can bring—a longing so deep that a new spiritual dawn, a “grace awakening,” if you will, cannot help but burst through the wall of legalism. Since I am a Christian minister, much of my involvement and exposure is in the realm of the church and Christian organizations. It has been my observation that even here most folks are not free; they have not learned to accept and enjoy the grace that has come to us in Jesus Christ. Though He came to set us free, it saddens me to say that many still live behind the wall of bondage. Regrettably, the stones of constraint are everywhere to be found. Instead of being places of enthusiastic, spontaneous worship, many churches and Christian ministries have become institutions that maintain a system of religion with hired officials to guard the gates and to enforce the rules.
In vain I have searched the Bible, looking for examples of early Christians whose lives were marked by rigidity, predictability, inhibition, dullness, and caution. Fortunately, grim, frowning, joyless saints in Scripture are conspicuous by their absence. Instead, the examples I find are of adventurous, risk-taking, enthusiastic, and authentic believers whose joy was contagious even in times of painful trial. Their vision was broad even when death drew near. Rules were few and changes were welcome. The contrast between then and now is staggering.
The difference, I am convinced, is grace. Grace scales the wall and refuses to be restricted. It lives above the demands of human opinion and breaks free from legalistic regulations. Grace dares us to take hold of the sledge of courage and break through longstanding stones. Grace invites us to chart new courses and explore ever-expanding regions, all the while delighting in the unexpected. While others care more about maintaining the wall and fearing those who guard it, grace is constantly looking for ways to freedom. Grace wants faith to fly, regardless of what grim-faced officials may say or think or do.
There is a “grace awakening” loose in the land. Will you become a part of it? While you take your turn with the sledgehammer and pound away, a host of us are standing near, and some of us may be half a world away, cheering you on. Don’t think of it as a lonesome, isolated task. You are breaking through to freedom, and no one is more delighted than the Lord Jesus Christ, who has promised you His grace. Never forget His words: “If therefore the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed.” Stay at it. By the grace of Almighty God, the new movement will someday sweep across every continent and the longstanding wall that has kept people in bondage for centuries will come tumbling down. And we shall all, at last, be free indeed.