There’s Got to be a Middle Way

Two extreme views:

(1) Grace is what happens when you are soft on sin. Jon Acuff was accused of being too “soft on sin” in his piece on CNN about Christians being jerks online.  Here’s his reply:

I wrote a piece for CNN about the two most common ways Christians become jerks online. In it, I argued that we’re called to love our neighbor and that includes people on the Internet. The reader who wrote me and several other people felt that in the article I came across as being “soft on sin.”
Similar to how people will accuse politicians of being “soft on crime,” sometimes Christians accuse each other of being “soft on sin.” The idea is that there needs to be justice and consequences. People have to pay the cost of their actions and learn from their mistakes. When you’re “soft on sin,” you’re giving people too many second chances, you’re not holding people accountable the right way, you’re being too gracious.  So people accused me of giving evil a free pass.

I’m not soft on sin. I’m not shy about repentance or consequences or hurt or suffering or pain. But when it comes to loving people, our Lord has set an incredibly high bar. So love the people no one else loves. Show grace without end. Give comfort even when it makes no sense.
And as far as the DVD copy of my trip to hell goes? I’m not concerned about emails like that.
“You’re too loving” and “you show too much grace” are insults I will forever accept.

(2) Judgment is what happens when you are rigid on sin. Jonathan Brink posted this video about the destructive nature of judgment:

(3) There’s got to be a middle way, hasn’t there? A way where we can judge with love, a way we can exhibit tough love, a way we can hold one another accountable with just enough grace and judgment to hold them in a constant state of assurance and uneasiness?  A way to not go “as far as” Jesus did, but not act like we are judge and jury, right? Surely we are called to the middle and not the extremes, right?

There’s got to be a middle way between grace and judgment.

Or is there just…grace?

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  1. billgepford says

    Jeremy – Good post. I'm with you – neither way is really a viable option. Paul, usually held as the poster boy for grace, was also quick to call people out for their sins, even publicly (we still have the names and sins of a lot of people recorded in his letters). However, Paul was also quick to follow it with grace, perhaps to the point where you could argue that his rebukes come out of a desire for the person to receive God's grace. Paul saw the very real consequences for sinners' actions, and while he didn't shy from pointing them out, he did it out of a desire for the person to return to Christ (I may be attributing desires to Paul, but I dont think it would be out of line with his writings). Perhaps that is the line we need to draw as Christians – to be willing to call sin for what it is, but only because we truly love the person regardless of their actions.

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