Good commentary today in Christianity Today from Mark Galli.
This comes near the end of the article – do read the whole thing.
Note how one writer put it in reflecting on the Gosselin debacle. (I’ll leave the writer anonymous, because my beef is not with her.) The sentiment expressed is widespread in our movement. After rightly suggesting that the flaws of Jon and Kate reflect our movement’s flaws, she says that we must do things differently: Find new role models, practice forgiveness better, and take marriage vows more seriously. Do, do, do. Then she concludes, “Then, and only then, will Christians have something to offer the world.”
The problem, of course, is that there is no empirical evidence to suggest that Christians will actually do these things consistently. Not private Christians. Not public Christians—it’s only a matter of months, maybe days (!) before another scandal will be revealed in the press.
Such moral exhortations are no doubt needed, but we must never believe that “then and only then” will we Christians have something “to offer the world.” What we offer the world is not ourselves or our moral example or our spiritual integrity. What we offer the world is our broken lives, saying, “We are sinners saved by grace.” What we offer the world is Jesus Christ and him crucified.
“Be a sinner and sin boldly,” said Martin Luther, “but believe and rejoice in Christ even more boldly. For he is victorious over sin, death, and the world. As long as we are here, we have to sin. This life is not the dwelling place of righteousness but, as Peter says, we look for a new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells. … Pray boldly—you too are a mighty sinner.”
Make no mistake, this is not cheap grace. Not cheap at all—it’s free. And it’s the most precious thing we have to offer the world.
I might add that winning the culture war won’t help much either…
UPDATE: A reader sent along this web page with quotes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. Perhaps, this page balances Galli’s piece? Can these two approaches be compatible?