Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist. —Pablo Picasso
There are two types of people in the world: Those who see rules as being made to be broken—they can’t help themselves. Then there are those who take comfort in the boundaries rules provide; no matter the circumstance, they can never circumvent the law.
These personalities are both present in the Church.
Do not be carried away by all kinds of strange teachings. It is good for our hearts to be strengthened by grace, not by eating ceremonial foods, which is of no benefit to those who do so. (Hebrews 13:9)
What is this grace that strengthens us? Is it like calcium for our bones? Does it do what protein does for muscle mass?
I like to define grace as God’s unmerited favor. It simply means God is for us, and because He is for us, He sacrificially gives us what we don’t deserve.
Our nation was stunned after a shooter entered a South Carolina church, joined their prayer service for forty-five minutes, and then murdered nine people. And again, our nation was stunned when the families of those killed stood before the murderer and confessed, “I’m grieving in every fiber of my being, but I forgive you.” Forgiveness was unmerited. Loathing and revenge would have been understood. And yet God’s grace flowed from the bereaved families as they freed themselves of anger and bitterness and showered the murderer of their loved ones with forgiveness. In that grace, God was for them; but God was also for him—the young man who killed.
What can unmerited love do for you on your lowest of days? To know Someone is for you is strength to the soul. And so it is God’s consistent love for us—not adherence to flimsy rules and traditions—that grows us.
There are a lot of churches that might disagree. For them, adherence to the rules makes people stronger. Don’t drink that; don’t think this. Vote this way; live that way.
But this passage in Hebrews tells us it’s not the rules but rather His grace that leads us into freedom. And this grace is mesmerizing.
Father, I don’t want to be carried away by strange teachings, so teach me the unadulterated truth, so I might recognize the lies quickly and flee from them briskly. Amen.