Friday, February 02, 2018

Theological Thrift Shops: Taking Position Against Cheap Charis/Church

We've all heard it...  Speaking with a transparently repentant heart, I've preached it!  It's a propaganda and persuasion that promulgates and pushes the poison of cheap grace.  We've taken the divine and acted as desperate merchants who, for the aspiration of pomp and popularity, discounted the price.  To take the verse "all have sinned, and fallen short of God's glory," (Romans 3:23) as a justification for a compromised existence in the so called "believer" is heresy and nothing short of false prophesy in itself.

My wife finds excitement and exhilaration in "thrifting."  For her, to uncover a jewel, pair of shoes, unused small appliance, etc., that would otherwise cost a fortune, for only pennies on the dollar?  That is a slice of high living to her.  Treasures unlimited and untold are to be found in unassuming, quaint little spots like Salvation Army, Goodwill, and consignment shops alike.  They have undoubtedly yielded irrevocably grand discoveries.

Come'on... can you blame her?  Who doesn't just love a good deal?  And the sense of satisfaction, bliss, and accomplishment is evident every single time she "scores."  It can all be summed up in her ultimate quip and question, "Guess what I paid for it???"

I shall never forget her finding some studded Christian Louboutin's (these is red bottoms, theses is bloody shoes).  She rushed into the house and burst in on my introverted masterpiece of minimalism, and largely lethargic disposition, with non-containable glee.  She's holding these pair of pumps and asks three succinct questions:  1)  Do you realize what these are?  Being that I didn't have a clue, she quickly schooled me to the immensity of this find.  2) She let me know, "I Googled them and found out that these are selling online right now for $2100.00.  Okay, so now she has my attention and I'm thinking "this aint good even if she paid HALF that price."  (don't judge me)  Then her all too infamous question 3)  "Guess how much I paid for them?"  Knowing me... I answer in my all too pessimistic way, " I have absolutely NO IDEA."  She exclaims.... "20 WHOLE DOLLARS!!!"  $2100.00 shoes for 20 bucks???  WTH (that's heck btw) With an admitted relief, I was impressed.  I gave her a high five  and said "good job."  I mean, how does that work exactly?  Either someone 1) was in some mode of desperation when they let these go or 2) they didn't realize what they actually had.  AHAAAA!!!

I guess you may see where this is going...  How have we, in Christianity, so discounted the cost and value of grace?  We muddle in the corridors that discount how costly it actually is.  We have slashed the sacrifice of Calvary, and countless Christian Martyrs since that time, to seemingly imply that it requires almost nothing to be a Christian.  We want so desperately to make the next "sell" that we cut the cost by drastic proportions.

How have we done this?  We offer Grace without repentance, Justification by faith without the expectation of believing obedience.  We see the all too common "prosperity gospel" that sells what God does for us without mention or murmur of what He requires of us.  We cater to the theological thrifter...  The Apostle Paul said (2 Timothy 4:3) that the time is coming when "people will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions and will turn away from the truth."  Hmmmm that's ironic. My wife would almost always rather shop at a thrift store now than a main department store.  Why? Because she knows they won't require much of her.  Get that... she KNOWS it won't be costly.  She'll leave there with what must of us call "a steal."  The only time she's go into Dillard's, Macy's, Nordstrom's, etc. is when they appease her discounted disposition. (you know... 75% off the entire stock)

According to Dietrich Bonhoeffer we've ladled out "cheap grace" in alarming proportions.  We have unconsciously given the impression that believing obedience is no requirement when we come to the Christ.  Bonhoeffer declares, "cheap grace justifies the sin but doesn't justify the sinner."  I can picture and imagine there are masses of people congregating in our sanctuaries, synagogues, auditoriums and worship centers week in and out... then they rush out to brag and boast with that all too familiar inquisition, "GUESS WHAT I PAID FOR IT?"

Matter of fact... back to my wife's infamous "steal" of the infamous $20 Red Bottoms  THEY WERE A SIZE 34 (about a US size 6/6.5)... Okay and????  SHE WEARS A SIZE 8!!!.  So, she knew, and even admitted, that she would NEVER wear them.  Get it?  They didn't fit her!  You get the picture here?  She knew she would never "walk" in them!!!  The satisfaction, sense of attainment, pride, and contentment was in the bargain itself.  There was absolutely no expectation that she'd ever apply them.  She held and had something she would never use simply because someone offered it to her "'at a price she couldn't refuse."

So I ask.... How many are in our pews and stadium seats from week to week with NO intentions of ever walking in what we've offered them?  They're only there because it's a "bargain center."  Wow!!! Theological Thrift Centers... We invite them to, without conscious and in seeming celebration, to be hearers of the word and not doers. (James 1)  They're not patrons and part of your ministry because it's better but because you're "cheaper."

Reality is this.... Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Fendi, Channel, Burberry, Tiffany will hardly (if ever) be found at a discount center, or on sale. THEY DON'T HAVE TO.... They're authentic.  They know they're the real deal.  For sale???  Discount??? Are you serious, do you know what this is?  Maybe you can get a knock off somewhere, but not the real thing.

So... stop trying to sell the real thing, Jesus the Christ, on the tag of grace without repentance.  Cheap Grace???? That's an oxymoronic expression...  Christ told the rich young ruler "if you want this, you've got to sell all that you have, give it to the poor and follow me."  Christ tells us we must deny ourselves, take up the cross daily and follow Him."  That cross is  bloody... That cross is costly. The cost of salvation, demands the high cost of discipleship and obedience.   Reality is that grace is free but is definitely not cheap....


At 7:25 PM, Blogger Rev. Kathy J. McDow said...

You may garner red bottoms at a fraction (big ups to Sis) and you may build great cathedrals. However, nothing compares to the riches we possess by Christ Jesus! #graceofGod #priceless


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