"Author Steve Brown says that some people think legalistic churches are as bad as grace-oriented churches. As he put it, they are no more alike than saying a taxidermist is like a veterinarian. Some would claim, "Well, either way you get your dog back!" True, but one of them collects dust and never moves. The other one is busy and barking and eating and jumping ... he's alive! He's the real thing! The point? Let's choose to be veterinarians. Let's determine that our churches will be places of grace. A church of grace is alive, anticipating God's work, willing to risk, free of judgmentalism ... but make no mistake ... they're not free from holiness." (Charles Stanley ... Church Awakening ... page 85)
Years ago, when I was still doing youth ministry, we had a young lady from another congregation who started attending our youth group. We were obviously glad to have her join us but I did wonder why. So, the first opportunity I had, I asked her why she left the other group and joined ours. Her answer was discouraging! She said that during the morning worship at the previous church two young men came forward to give their lives to Christ. The preacher told them to go home and get a haircut and then they would talk about salvation. I wonder how many people are left in their chains of sin and destined for Hell because of legalistic attitudes.
This past Sunday we had a young man come forward 'to find God again' (his words). He had been dealing with a drug addiction and had tried to commit suicide just two days previous. He stood before our church family and the family cried. Grace flowed down from God through our people. That is what church is ... a funnel of grace!
Please do not misunderstand me ... I am not promoting antinomianism (anything goes). There is accountability and holiness that needs to be a part of the equation .... not for salvation's sake, but out of gratitude for the grace God has so blessed us with. Nevertheless, a church without grace is no more than a taxidermist ... removing the heart and stuffing people full of religious law. The church is a place of healing ... a place where the 'ointment of grace' is applied. Praise God for His grace!
Matthew 9:12-13 ... On hearing this, Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.”