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Tony’s reaction to The New Legalism (Part 2)

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Tony’s reaction to The New Legalism (Part 2)

Anthony Elswick

Grace is sufficient because the shamers are right.

I recently posted on the blog discusing Dr. Anthony Bradley’s article about people who felt that they were being shamed into attempting to do great things for God.  In the last post, I pointed out that the issue isn't unique to the missional movement but has been something faithful men have had to struggle through forever. You see, Bradley got the diagnosis wrong, which causes his remedy to be wrong as well.

Bradley saw the hurting people and then concluded that the issue was that the missional movement was legalistic and narcissistic.  In labeling the movement this way, he makes the remedy for the hurting people to be to disregard the message. Freedom from guilt and shame never comes from disregarding people but from resting in grace.

When we were in sin, Christ died for us. That happened. We will escape Hell because of Christ’s sacrifice. In that way, we owe God everything…our very lives would not repay our debt. So those who try to shame us into doing more for Christ have a point. The reason we feel the shame and guilt is because we feel the truth in it.  I’m moving my family to a relatively safe place. According to the State Department, Managua is the safest capital in Latin America. Surely I could do more! Many missionaries are going into danger zones in the 10/40 window. Doesn’t God deserve more from me?

So yes, our works and deeds are never going to be good enough for Christ.  There is always going to be someone who appears more faithful or who bears more fruit.  And yes, you could always give more to God. But…

But…the work is Christ’s. God saw our faithfulness before he died. He knew what we were going to do and not do. He was the one who gave us our gifts and callings. So, to those whom he wanted to be missionaries, He gave gifts and callings that would befit them. To those whom he wanted to be senders, he gave them gifts and callings that would befit them.

Yet still, the shamers are right. We fall short. He deserves more then we will give… always. He knew we would, and so when he went to the cross all those years ago, he bore on himself our lack of faithfulness as well.

So, if you feel shame or guilt for not doing enough for God, know that you aren’t alone but also know that you can never do enough for God. But the answer isn’t to hang your head and look at the floor in guilt; instead it's to rest in joy while gazing at the cross where all our sins were forgiven and the great things of God were accomplished by God Himself.