The religious people of Jesus' time, the Pharisees and teachers of the law, hated the abundant grace Jesus poured out on the prostitute, tax collectors, and thieves. They hated Jesus, too!
The religious people of our time hate the grace that God has lavished upon us in Jesus Christ. They will sing to the top of their voices about his amazing grace. They will sing "Jesus paid it all". They will listen passionately to songs on Christian radio about grace. But if someone teaches from Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, or Hebrews on the grace they sing about, they will hate you, too! Just like they hated Jesus.
They will remove you from their churches...their "Bible studies"...their small groups. They will remove you from your position.
Jesus lovingly warned us this time would come. He told us the religious world would despise the good news of God's grace and those who taught God's grace.
In Luke 6:22-23 Jesus says,
In John 15: 15-25 Jesus says:
Notice who Jesus is referring to when he speaks of those in the world who are doing the hating in the previous verses. He is referring to the religious people of his day. Look at the last verses in each of the previous verses. In both sets of verses, Jesus clearly points out that it is religious people in their religious world who are doing the hating. And who are these religious people Jesus is clearly exposing? It it is none other than those who had the Law, who read the Law, who memorized the Law, who attended the synagogue faithfully where the Law was taught, and who gave their ten percent in keeping with the Law. It is none other than the Pharisees and teachers of the Law themselves who hated Jesus and his grace with a passion.
Jesus said in the above verses that in the same way the religious world hated him and his grace, that they would hate us, too! In our generation, we are seeing this same religious spirit resist the gospel of grace and those teaching it with the same enthusiasm as the Pharisees and teachers of the law in Jesus' generation. Just as the Pharisees and teachers of the Law would kick those out of their synagogues who embraced Jesus as the Messiah and his grace that flowed to bruised, broken, hurting, and hopeless people, they modern day Pharisees and "teachers of the Bible" are kicking people out of their churches and off their staff. The are removing them from positions of leadership. Those in church leadership are removing pastors from their pulpits. And all without cause, just as Jesus said.
I remember the day I was removed from my position at a "Christian" recovery center that had the name of grace in the title. Yes, it had the name grace in the title. One of the organizational leaders brought me into his office one minute before I was to go home for the day. He told me that the organization could no longer keep me on their staff because what I was teaching was not what they believed. Now understand, I was teaching verse by verse through the books of Romans, Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Hebrews. I was teaching on the new covenant of grace that Jesus said himself he would establish in his blood. My reply was they are right, if they did not believe in the finished work of Jesus, if they did not believe in the finality of the cross, if they did not believe we are no longer under law but under grace, if they did not believe we are not under the curses of the law, if they did not believe Jesus became a curse for us, if they did not believe God had removed us from the law and that the Spirit did not lead us to follow the law but to call God "Father", then yes, we believed differently. And with this, they fired me.
I am not the only one whose name has been reviled and spurned as evil for teaching the good news of God's grace freely given to us in Jesus. There are many other grace teachers and believers who have gone through similar experiences. I understand how you feel. But more importantly, Jesus understands how you feel. It can be a lonely place. You will find yourself hungering for grace-filled relationships with others. You will find yourself unable to find a church you can be a part of. Again, Jesus knows how it feels to be rejected by religious people in their religious world. You can go to him in your time of need, knowing he can sympathize with your weaknesses.
So what do we do when we have been rejected by the religious crowd, fired or removed from our positions, or kicked out of the Bible class or small group? We do what Jesus did to those who hurt and hated him. We forgive as Jesus forgave them when he said, "Father, forgive them. They do not know what they are doing." What religious person has hurt you? Who hates you because of grace? Forgive them just as God in Christ forgave each of us. Give to them the same grace Jesus gave from the cross to those who hated and hurt him.
Forgiveness doesn't mean we stop teaching grace.
My encouragement for those who are teachers of grace is to keep teaching grace. Keep teaching the finality of the cross. Keep teaching the fullness of forgiveness. Keep teaching our righteousness is a gift from God received by faith. Keep teaching we are not under law but under grace. Keep teaching we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ. Keep teaching we live by the Spirit of Jesus in us and not by the law. Refuse to water down the gospel of grace with the religious works of man in order to please religious people in their religious world. Teach lovingly. Teach gently. Teach boldly.
As you do, you will be ridiculed by the religious crowd in their religious world who loves their religious traditions. Jesus was ridiculed. You will be rejected by those who are proud of their religious activities. Jesus was rejected. However, there are those who need to hear the transforming truths of God's grace just like in Jesus' time. There are those who are bruised, broken, hurting, and hopeless who need to hear about God's grace freely given to them in Christ. Like Jesus, we must keep sharing grace, even when hated by the religious crowd. Remember, when the religious crowd hates you and God's message of grace, you are reflecting the very heart of Jesus to those in need...you are radiating grace! So keep shining the light of grace into the darkness of the religious world!