Scot McKnight seems to have stirred up quite a conversation over at Jesus Creed, with his posts on Grace Grinding. He follows up this post with Grace Grinding: Some Concrete Examples. From all the comments as well, it appears that some people love being grace grinders.
I think that we are all guilty of being grace grinders, whether it is something we do frequently, or rarely at all. I think this is why this conversation hits so many people, so close to home. The tragedy of it all though, is that those who truly relish in being grace grinders, will probably never ever be aware of what they do. By proclaiming the letter of the law, they kill the spirit of it, and injure those in the process. Rather than give life, and extend grace to others, they claim the law, or what they see as the moral high ground II Corinthians 3:6.
It reminds me of something my professor used to say in class. He would remind us of the moral smugness of the comment, “I love the sinner, but hate the sin.” And just how ungracious that comment is to people. We cannot claim to hate someone’s sin, but love them. Their sin, their pasts, though clean, and renewed, is a part of who they were and are. He would tell us that we cannot claim love as a moral highground while holding the object of love, or that other person at a distance. Jesus did not do this, so how can we. I think that those people who want to be grace grinders, are these same people who want to claim a higher moral ground, yet not get themselves dirty by interacting with sinners…they would prefer to keep them at a distance. That phrase is our attempt at extending grace, but wanting others to know that there are strings attached. It is not grace freely given.