Thursday, August 10, 2006

The Scandal of Grace

Imagine you are one of the early church's first members. You are sitting in a home with a few other believers, sharing a meal. You pray together. You sing a few Psalms. Someone recites a bit he's heard of Jesus' biography. Then someone gets up to read a letter to you from some guy named Paul.

Paul is a guy who used to go by the name Saul. It's possible he is responsible for the murder of someone you know, perhaps even your parents or one of your children. Now you have to sit and listen to someone read not just words from this guy, but instructions from this guy. Since his conversion from Christ-hating enforcer of the Law to card-carrying Jesus freak, he's not just one of your fellow Christians. He's an authority over all Christians recognized by nearly everyone.

It is possible this arrangement would not have sit well with you.

Imagine you're attached to Peter, a guy who has his problems, but who has been with Jesus from the beginning. And this newcomer Paul actually exerts authority over Peter! He seems to wield power over apostles who were actual disciples!

What in the world can explain the rise of Paul's recognized authority in the primitive church? The first explanation that comes to my mind is the authority over all authorities himself -- Jesus. If you were an early church member tempted to dismiss or disregard the teaching of a guy who used to push the killing of the ones you love, maybe you thought of something you heard Jesus said from the cross. In that excruciating place where Jewish officials like Paul had taken him, Jesus hung there dying and wished forgiveness even on the unrepentant revelers carrying out his execution.

The difference between Saul the persecutor and Paul the apostle was Jesus. The very road Paul was taking to kill Christians became his road to becoming one, because Jesus put up a roadblock and intervened. Revenge became repentance.
The difference between an early church member despising Paul's leadership and embracing it was Jesus. The same Pauline letter that might have irked became an encouragement.

Isn't that completely illogical? What weirdos this following Jesus thing makes us. C.S. Lewis was once asked what the main difference between Christianity and all other religions was, and he answered, "Oh, that's easy -- grace."
Grace isn't just amazing; it's ridiculous. It's revolutionary to our thoughts and feelings. It humbles the powerful and empowers the humble.
Jesus didn't die so you could learn how to be a better person. He died because you can't be. (That's grace offending your sensibilities right now.)

The grace of Jesus is a foolishness that, when believed, brings power to save (1 Cor. 1:18).

Grace is that bizarre missing ingredient that mucks up all human foibles, flaws, and fears. Grace is the thing that turns lives upside down. It is a sweet, beautiful irritant.
Grace is scandalous. It makes murderers into apostles, it makes victims into forgivers. It takes "never the twain shall meet" and makes "reunited and it feels so good." ;-)

Have you been scandalized by grace lately? Has Jesus shocked you through someone's granting grace to you?
When was the last time you offended someone's expectations by extending grace to them?

This is what I see as the big idea of Bellevue Community Church. Not that we entertain the masses better, not that we provide a fun and relaxing atmosphere for folks tired of the stodgy church down the street, and not even that we are friendly or "relevant" or easy to understand. No, the scandalous beauty of our church is that we believe in bringing grace to the hopeless, to the hurting, to the shamed, to the discarded, to the confused, to the powerless. If we aren't about Jesus, the savior of sinners, we aren't about the Gospel. And if we aren't about the Gospel, then all the sentiment and sap in the world isn't going to make us about grace.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners -— of whom I am the worst.
-- 1 Timothy 1:15

26 Comments:

At 5:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't most churches believe in and preach the "scandalous" grace you speak of and try to offer it to those who are hurting? If you ask any church in this town, they would say their church is doing the same thing. What makes BCC different? The style, or lack of depth for mature christians? The thing that seperates BCC (for good or ill) is that it is a joel osteen model, no really in-depth or hard preaching, but ..let me be fair by calling it inspirational talks.

 
At 6:23 PM, Anonymous Nathan said...

Anonymous, what BCC'ers ( of which I'm a former ) would insist is that BCC is a place that you can investigate the scandolous grace and it's Giver as you are, without fear or worse.... boredom.

Speaking to the later concern, we live in a day and age where any information ( banal or divine ) has to be presented in such a way as to keep people's attention. There is a huge competition for attention from the media saturated society we live in. Everything has to be simplified ( watered down ) or artificially sweetened.

Now, I believe BCC and other churches that openly claim thier superiority in reaching seekers fall a little short in proclaiming the "Lord" aspect of Jesus. Everyone wants a savior, but who wants a Lord ?

The Gospel, presented in it's reality, is not going to be a popular message. It calls us to deny ourselves every day..

BCC, in the past has pointed a lot of people to be full of themselves. David, and this may sound harsh, has been full of himself... and it's cost him. He hasn't displayed Galatians in Galatians 5:22.

What about being filled with the Spirit ? Can that be found on an IPod ?

 
At 6:31 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Anonymous, I'm no fan of Joel Osteen. I do think there was some to be desired in Dr. Foster's "talks," but Joel Osteen makes him look like John Macarthur.

I'm sure other churches preach scandalous grace. My point wasn't that BCC is the only one. My point, if you cared to read for it, was that the Gospel is why churches like BCC exist. I am challenging my church to really teach and live the gospel.

Thanks for your comment.

 
At 6:39 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has this blog now become your attempt to become the new Lead & Teaching Pastor at BCC!?!

The information and thoughts have been great but now this site is turning into "theological vomiting" and preaching.

Peace, I'm outta here.

 
At 6:53 PM, Anonymous Nathan said...

Ignorance pleads for more ignorance.

Keep it shallow, keep it "safe."

 
At 7:07 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Wow,

Hardly what I would call insightful commentary, anonymous...

More like spiteful commentary.....

You propose to inform or share reasonable insight by stopping here to comment.... but what you ultimately did... in about 18 words.... was show your complete inability to converse.... fairly and intelligently....

What might make you sick... is.... trying to swallow something too "grown up" for you... that doesn't agree with your infantile attitude.... or perspective...

There is a sincere effort being made here... to discuss issues and challenge the heart or mind of .... everyone and anyone who drops by....

The only effort you made was to cut off your welcome... the only thing you discussed was why some people shouldn't blog.... and the only challenge you presented was whether it would be fair to delete your "prissy" comment or not....

That's not my call..... this blog belongs to a humble servant and a learned gentleman.... one who is incredibly fair-minded.... but maybe we should have the congregation vote on it?

To delete or not....?

I'd like to rein"state" that one more time....

To delete or not....?

I vote.... YES!

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 7:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr Leonard,
my first instinct is to vote yes - - but instead - - - I will defer to my elder -- - - Jared - -
who I have entrusted my words on this blog - - and
whom I trust - - -

humble.... putting others before self.....fair minded
to the point of bending over backwards....hmmmmm
sounds like 7 other servants....

anonymous, why is it whenever close-mindedness bumps up against intelligent, fair, open "argument", all it can do is lash out ?

Refe

 
At 7:39 PM, Blogger Jared said...

The information and thoughts have been great but now this site is turning into "theological vomiting" and preaching.

Anonymous, are you the same as the first Anonymous?
If so, I wish you'd make up your mind. First you gripe about immature Joel Osteenish "talks," then you gripe about theological preaching.

I take it you liked it when it appeared I was talking up the conflict and bagging on Foster, but now that I'm trying to talk about general biblical issues important to the church, you've lost interest.

Oh well. I said at the beginning of the week I was going to talk hard on church issues while drifting away from talking names all the time. If Dr. Foster has accepted the elders' decision, then I accept his acceptance. It's time to move on with the work of this church. If that bores you, feel free to move along. The blogosphere is full of less vomitous sites.

Peace.

 
At 7:41 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Oh, as to your question: Has this blog now become your attempt to become the new Lead & Teaching Pastor at BCC!?!

The answer is no.

 
At 7:47 PM, Anonymous Nathan said...

Are you sure Jared ? I've heard it pays well.

( you know I'm kidding.. I hope. )

 
At 11:25 AM, Blogger Brenda Williams said...

I am an "older" Christian -- mature in some ways and immature in many others -- but I have walked with Christ for many years now. I accepted Christ at age 7 and spent my life in church but it wasn't until I came to BCC more than 15 years ago that I "got" the concept of grace. Jared's right, it is scandalous and life-changing. Thank GOD.

Other churches ARE sharing the truth of God's grace and I praise Him for that; for now, my family is called to remain at BCC and share our grace story with as many people who are drawn to this church as we can.

Thanks for delving deeper, Jared. You're in our prayers!

 
At 4:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just for clarification, I am the anonymous who posted about Joel Osteen and comparing him to foster and the church. I do not agree with the second anonymous poster. However, I do have a comment for Mr. Leonard. It seems like throughout this whole discussion here, you have been commenting with what seems to be christian love, yet you in this case call the other poster names, while you are constantly over praising those you agree with. I saw you do this in talkBCC too. You clothe some of your kind christian remarks in what could be called shameful name calling, that over there on the other blog you tried to tone down. You said the second anonymmous poster should be deleted and called his an infantile perspective, as you do similarly to anyone who disagrees with you. It is almost as if you have a holier than thou attitude regarding your position on these issues. You can believe I or anyone else is wrong, but the rear-end kissing that you do to those that agree with you and name calling that you do to those you disagree with(wrapped up in "christian love" of course) indicates that maybe you should examine yourself spiritually before you take the specs out of the eyes of the people on the other side.

 
At 6:05 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Somehow I have to believe that point blank accusations of name-calling and rear-end kissing and being holier-than-thou and the gist of what you are suggesting about me, as a Christian.... falls into the very category you seem to feel I have fallen.

Much of what I have posted and may post actually falls into another area, that you seem to not have the capacity to gather... and it is the "tongue-in-cheek" category.

I would say that you have no sense of humor or are so unbiased that you don't advocate and one perspective over another... and support those you agree with equally to those you don't....

But..... well.... just read your own statment above.....

I, apparently, can't have an opinion, make a statement, or offer a suggestion without becoming what you insist I am...

So, maybe you can "speak" for me.... you seem to have a handle on how best that should be done...

And, I love your anonymous-ness.... your forthright-ness... your vacuous-ness....

Oops... sorry.... "alleged" name calling again...

(isn't there a difference in calling someone a name and calling what they do or say or how they communicate or behave a name?)

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 6:29 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 6:38 PM, Anonymous Bud B. Charles said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 8:17 PM, Blogger Jared said...

Everybody calm down.

And please remember this is not a bulletin board where you can tack anything you want up. If you can't stay on topic of the post you're commenting under, at least stay in the conversation developing.

Thanks.

 
At 3:57 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could post my name, but what difference would that make? My point is Mr. Leonard, is that you do not seem to have any respect at all for those who disagree with you. You can say it is tongue-in-cheek all you want to, but you cannot infer that kind of tone in writing in my opinion. I am not saying you shouldnt be able to offer opinions, that is what discussions are all about. I respect your position on these issues, and by your words, you obviously do not respect those of people who disagree with you and that is my problem with you and your postings.

 
At 5:06 PM, Blogger judas icarus said...

Then, again, I ask you... to:

1. Speak for me and make the blogosphere a "youosphere"...
2. Say who you are... so at least you don't hide behind anonymity... you've called me by first and last name, I believe.... and I don't have the honor of doing so with you...
3. At least support your charges with specifics... and allow me to rebut them... and hopefully rebut per your liking...
4. Give me the manual on "how one should respond to posts they disagree with... and do so with respect"...

You seem to have written one.... : - )

And, finally, one man's tone is another man's tony.... meaning.... depending on how you "hear" something that is written is an individual thing....

I do respect your right to "hear" what I or anyone has written as disrespectful or whatever.... but if you reread your posts.... you go beyond that sentiment in criticizing me publicly... and therefore.... become like many.... that say..... "Do as I say, not as I do"....

And I have no respect for that....

Thanks for letting me know you have a problem with me and my postings.... but at this point.... you seem to be in the minority of ONE.... and with so many anonymous's posting here.... it seems you wouldn't be....

You can also contact me via email and critcize or debate these things with me, privately....

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard
cevanleonard@mac.com

 
At 7:44 PM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

The way you disagree with respect is to not use inflammatory language when you are describing other people's positions such as infantile, stupid, unintelligent, etc when most people have a resonable position on this subject. You asked me once to have respect for the polar opposite view of things, maybe you should take your own advice. And after you have said these things to people and demeaned their positions and feelings, you then say "kind regards"....Perhaps I did use too harsh of language in expressing what I have on this subject, and for that I apologize. It is the words you use to describe other people's feelings and reasonable positions that bothers me. And it shows that you do not respect the views of people who disagree with you, and that you are not willing to consider/learn from them. I have actually been willing to learn from your posts to the point that I agree with the elders even though I started supporting Foster. I just wish that you would be as open minded and not use such inflamed language re other positions.

 
At 6:28 AM, Blogger judas icarus said...

JD,

Points well made, points well taken.

And via our little exchange... perhaps you and others can truly glean why many people finally found dealing with David Foster to be something they no longer wished to do. And, based on a series of exchanges much more heated... and over an 18+ month period of time.

Perhaps you and others can truly see why allowing him to continue as Lead Pastor at BCC was something the elders had to recognize as impossible.

Perhaps you and others can truly understand why having an attitude, a high opinion of oneself, and a haughty and unrepentant spirit leads people to really dislike someone.. even though they are trying to respect them, love them like Jesus. communicate with them and make the best of a situation... until it just can't continue.

So, much of what I have been doing here has been leading up to SOMEONE finally approaching me like David Foster was approached. Thank YOU for helping me make the point(s) I was hoping to make for all to gather and assimilate.

I, unlike, David Foster, stand down now, humbly, apologetically and willingly. I think my time here at BCC IS BROKEN is done. Sorry it took this long to make my case and sorry to anyone I offended beyond forgiveness.

And JD.... this fruition is due much to your brief interaction with me and you making such a vocal case (against me) like so many people have been making or have made regarding David Foster's moral authority and fitness to pastor a whole church... not just a congregation that saw him 30 minutes a week.

So, thanks again.... I respectfully agree with you completely and I am happy to accept your judgment of me. You have helped prove, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that.... there is a standard that people should be held to.... especially a Pastor.

Thanks to everyone here (especially Jared) for putting up with me and letting me DEVELOP MY CASE while sharing some of my perspectives.... over the last few weeks.... see you around campus.... or not....! : - )

Kind regards,

C. Evan Leonard

 
At 11:22 AM, Anonymous Jonathan Davis said...

Wow...well I have to complement you Evan, you hit the ball out of the park..it makes the point perfectly. I came to this place on Dr. Foster's side of the fence so to speak, but I do now realize that there were major problems with him, and really the BCC organization as a whole because when you have these kinds of problems at the top, the whole organization is affected. Maybe this is best for BCC after all. Btw, you have made some cogent points, and I know I for one would like to hear more from you as these discussions go forward on this blog...God Bless.

 
At 11:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very Interesting... now I have to go read it all, all over again to try to assimilate the lessons. All I know is that I didn't like C. Evan Leonard very much. I even googled him to see if I could learn more about him, so I could discredit him in my mind, further. I wondered why he felt so free to send his dog into this fight and why he was so dadgum tenacious (how's that for name calling?)He was really starting to irritate me. So much so that I skipped most of what he had to say...I even mentally critcized all his elipses and decided I would not use them any more.... and now.. I have to go read it all again...and think a little more...

Thanks.. This is such an interesting ride...and maybe just maybe I am learning things that will help me down the road.

 
At 7:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He's a former BCC staff member fired by Foster. That's the reason.

 
At 8:04 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

He wasn't fired, he was asked to "leave". There is a difference.

 
At 3:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We spent a wasted year at BCC. Come as you are and stay as you are...that seems to be the motto. The hardest part is to see how much faith in the Holy Spirit is lacking at BCC. When people believe that He is enough they don't need a three ring circus to keep people awake or returning. It was a gross year. A sad waste.

 
At 3:11 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Who knows where to download XRumer 5.0 Palladium?
Help, please. All recommend this program to effectively advertise on the Internet, this is the best program!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home