“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession...Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.” Dietrich Bonheoffer
"Aren't you the pastor?" It's the question every pastor secretly dreads because pastors are sometimes held to a different level of behavioral expectations. We are often scrutinized for how we dress, what we think, where we shop and how we serve our greater community. Unfortunately, the scrutiny often includes our family. Rumors, innuendos and gossip spread like wildfire if a pastor is seen at a 'questionable' establishment or witnessed doing something 'questionable.' I've heard my share of stories from colleagues and their families about how they cope with unrealistic expectations, maybe you have too. However, judgments like this are not limited to clergy. They include all vocations from teachers and police officers to athletes and physicians.
Few people think of the impact their judgment makes before they make their comments. Psychology tells us that the person making the comment is doing so from a diminished sense of self-worth. But, the venom of a well-placed verbal strike can leave a heart paralyzed for life. We often fail to remember the truth when we are the recipient of someone else's poisonous judgment. Maybe this is exactly what Paul is trying to tell the Corinthian church.
The Apostle Paul appealed to the heart of the Corinthian believers. They were to live out their lives with a transformed heart of love and not with a self-sanctified attitude of superiority. Sometimes Christians are tempted to misuse their freedom in Christ to build up a false sense of self-righteousness. Paul admonished the Corinthians and reminded them of their responsibility to the greater Christian community. They were not to become a stumbling block for anyone. Paul summed it up clearly. Christian community is built on a foundation of love and to live any other way is to cheapen and diminish what Christ did for us all. Paul was always the champion for humility. He was very much aware of his temptation to sin. But, he was also convinced of the great love Christ Jesus had for him and for the lost world he came to save. Maybe we can be, too.
'yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.' I Corinthians 8:6 NIV