A few weeks ago, someone online requested a DVD copy of me being sent to hell. When I told my youngest brother Bennett this, his reaction was simple:
“Oh come on! DVD? Doesn’t heaven have better technology than that at this point? At the bare minimum I have to believe they’ve got Blu-ray.”
He makes a good point. If the movies “Piranha” and “Step Up” are in 3D I assume heaven is using some sort of hologram technology. But that’s not really the point of this. The point is that someone felt I was on a bullet train to Hades. Why?
I wrote a piece for CNN about the two most common ways Christians become jerks online. In it, I argued that we’re called to love our neighbor and that includes people on the Internet. The reader who wrote me and several other people felt that in the article I came across as being “soft on sin.”
Similar to how people will accuse politicians of being “soft on crime,” sometimes Christians accuse each other of being “soft on sin.” The idea is that there needs to be justice and consequences. People have to pay the cost of their actions and learn from their mistakes. When you’re “soft on sin,” you’re giving people too many second chances, you’re not holding people accountable the right way, you’re being too gracious.
So people accused me of giving evil a free pass. Have you ever heard that before? Has there ever been an issue your friend thought you weren’t mad enough about? Or a situation where you refused to let someone keep falling when everyone told you to abandon all hope? Have you ever been accused of being soft on sin?
It’s not a new phenomenon. In the Prodigal Son story, this is essentially the argument of the older brother. When he realizes his failure of a younger brother received a party instead of punishment, he is incensed. He berates the father, lists out the younger brother’s faults and refuses to attend the party.
But here’s the thing about this approach to life. Here’s the one thing I can’t get around.
You can never out grace a God who sent his son to the cross for you.
You will never have a reaction to a situation or a sin or a person or an issue that is more loving than God. Your reaction will never, ever outweigh God’s. But don’t get that twisted, God is not soft on sin.
In fact, his wrath for sin is demonstrated best in the severity of his grace.
We don’t get casual grace. We don’t get easy grace. We don’t get cheap or soft grace.
We get severe grace. We get unyielding grace. We get Christ on the cross with nails in his hands and blood on his body grace. We get severe grace.
And the reason we do is that God is not soft on sin. He is hard on sin. He is wrathful on sin. He is all knowing and all powerful on sin. He is fire and earthquakes and showers of sulfur on sin. His wrath is undeniable on sin. Which is why it took such tremendous grace to quench it.
I’m not soft on sin. I’m not shy about repentance or consequences or hurt or suffering or pain. But when it comes to loving people, our Lord has set an incredibly high bar. So love the people no one else loves. Show grace without end. Give comfort even when it makes no sense.
And as far as the DVD copy of my trip to hell goes? I’m not concerned about emails like that.
“You’re too loving” and “you show too much grace” are insults I will forever accept.