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In the parable of the sower, Jesus spoke of three primary enemies of the sower’s intention for the seed. I have used this little story as a structure for teaching about the enemies of grace. First, there was the trodden ground, the hard path, where nothing could grow. Then there were the predators, the birds of the air that swoop in to devour the seed before it can grow. Finally, there are the distractions, the thorns that grow up and choke the life out of the new growth.
One of the most common things we experience once we begin to understand this amazing message of grace is that we forget. It seems so easy to be distracted and to fall back under the shame and pressure of performance. Fortunately, the Lord reaches in and reminds us from time to time. But wouldn’t it be better to avoid those distractions? Wouldn’t it be nice simply to walk in the light of grace?
Maybe thinking through some of these distractions will help. At least we might know a little better what to watch out for.
I suspect that most heresies and unorthodox ideas begin with the words, “But what about…?” Years ago I took the training of a popular evangelism program. They taught us that we should be prepared to pull the discussion back to the gospel when we heard those words. I have experienced this often as I have shared the good news of salvation. People will say, “But what about my loved ones who have died?” or “But what about the dinosaurs?” or “But what about politics?” These might be worthy questions or discussions of their own, but they are distractions from the main point.
Lately the grace message has been greatly distracted by the universalist debate. Before that it was the demonic debate. Before this it was the charismatic debate. Before that it was the Calvinist/Arminian debate. Some of these things are never settled. They are still distractions from the wonderful message of grace.
And the result of the debates is that those who love the message of grace are divided and discouraged. In spite of all we know to be true about the unconditional love of God in Jesus, we still add things to the message. “Grace is nice, but you have to see it from xyz perspective.” The distractions choke the life out of the message.
Don’t let yourself get distracted and discouraged by these debates! If you know the message of grace, proclaim it boldly and cleanly. Tell people of the love of God and put the debaters into a room where they can only distract each other. There are too many people who need to know the truth of love and grace. We don’t have time for distractions.
Dr. David Orrison has been a pastor for over 30 years and is now the Executive Director of “Grace for the Heart,” a ministry dedicated to proclaiming the sufficiency of Jesus Christ for all aspects of the Christian life. Dave has served in the Evangelical Free Church and in the United Presbyterian Church, and he holds a Ph.D. in Theology from Trinity Seminary. Dave has unique insights into the struggles of what he calls “performance spirituality,” as he has worked extensively with people who are unsure of their relationship with Jesus because of the burden of legalism and the hopelessness of a “works-based Christian walk.” David has lived in Loveland, CO for 25 years and is happily married to Alice. They have eight sons. David blogs on a regular basis at http://graceformyheart.wordpress.com.