Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Grumbling & Grace

Every time I read the story of the Exodus, I am astonished by the tendency of the Hebrew people to continue to grumble in spite of what God does for them. And it's not little stuff that He does! We're talking miraculously saving them from Pharaoh's army with a pillar of fire; the crossing of the Red Sea on dry ground with walls of water on either side of them; the destruction of aforementioned army; and the providing of water, Manna, and quail - just to name a few. Still, over and over again, they grumble to and about Moses. What happened to being impressed with the goodness of God? What happened to the spirit of gratitude that should have dominated their hearts as they enjoyed real freedom for the first time in their lives? What happened to the concept of trusting God?
I think we all read that story and can't imagine that we would ever act that way. Unfortunately, grumbling is more a signature identifier of the church than the love that Jesus wanted us to have and be known for. We grumble constantly - mostly about what we want, don't like, and prefer in our Sunday morning assembly. How did we ever allow a tool for edification to become the focal point of what it means to be "simply and only New Testament Christians"? How did the pep rally become the game? Grumbling robs us of focus, giving to others, gratitude, sharing, shepherding, unity, and love - just to name a few.
Here is a premise that I shared in my lesson Sunday. I believe it explains why every church and every child of God struggles with the ability to truly "Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice." Think about this:
Whatever negative feelings we have about our beliefs, our commitment, and our church family, all come from our failure to recognize what an extreme privilege it is to have Jesus as our Lord.
Even if the grumbling is true and justified, it's not the attitude of a heart that has been changed by grace. That IS Paul's argument in Romans 6 when Christians thought that grace was permission to sin! When you understand grace - what it means and does for us - you don't want to have anything to do with sin! Grace produces gratitude not grumbling!

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