So Much Grace... But No Repentance?

I really don’t like when people bash the church. That may seem odd to some. I did, after all, just write a book about an abusive ministry, and a few of my characters haven’t shown the church in its best light. (Anyone remember CJ?) I myself have said more than one unkind thing out of frustration with what I deemed hypocritical behavior from my brothers and sisters in faith. 

I don’t know. Maybe I’m evolving. Maybe I’m slipping. Maybe I’m letting go of some things and picking up others. But now I get offended when I hear people—Christians—speak harshly of the church, especially in the presence of unbelievers. I have to wonder whose side you’re on. But maybe that’s judgmental. 

Let me explain. I recently watched an interview of a well known pastor who went on a rant about the hypocrisy of believers who tried to hold him accountable. It was the typical immature stuff. “The church needs to do this. The church needs to do that. You can’t say anything to me because you sin too! Only God can judge me!” 

I was shocked by his comments. This was a man of God with a national platform. Goodness! Did he hate himself? But of course the interviewers relished in it. Neither of them professed to be people of faith and were quite comfortable with boasting about conduct the bible calls sin. Shockingly, this pastor was too. He had fond memories of his BC (Before Christ) days, and went so far as to use language many find to be offensive. 

I honestly think he was trying to be cool. It seemed that way, anyway, especially with his anti-religious rhetoric. In my opinion, he wanted to come across as humble and nonjudgemental, but went a little too far and came across as having a low righteous standard. 

Or maybe the guy just thought sin was okay. He acknowledged it, but there was no message of repentance. Instead, all he delivered was grace. Grace, grace, grace!

His message is one that seems to be growing among people of faith. Grace and mercy are emphasized, but that’s it. There’s no acknowledgment of sin, except to declare that it’s done, but there’s no call to repentance. The way this version of the gospel is presented it seems there’s no need to. “Don’t feel bad about fornicating. We all do it. Oh, you cheat on your wife? It’s cool. Grace covers that. Yes, you can gossip. Jesus understands.”

Don’t get me wrong. Jesus does understand the weaknesses of our flesh (Hebrews 4:15). Grace has also been given to us (Romans 5:21). Amen. Praise God. However, I feel it’s a disservice to present grace and grace alone. We no longer have to live by the law of Moses, but our freedom should not lead us to a life of sin.  

Well then, should we keep on sinning so that God can show us more and more of his wonderful grace? Of course not! Since we have died to sin, how can we continue to live in it? Or have you forgotten that when we were joined with Christ Jesus in baptism, we joined him in his death?  For we died and were buried with Christ by baptism. And just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glorious power of the Father, now we also may live new lives. 

~Romans 6:1-4 (NLT)

I don’t want to be critical. I just feel that our new lives in Christ should not be about simply continuing to live our old lives of sin. What would the point of salvation be if you really aren’t going to be free? Furthermore, the true definition of repentance is to turn away from sin. If you haven’t turned away from sin, did you truly repent? 

I’m not suggesting that anyone even attempt to be perfect. That would be foolish. We all sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard (Romans 3:23). We are all flawed. But being imperfect doesn’t give us a pass to continue to disobey God’s word. We should all strive to become better. He would truly receive the glory in that.