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The Futility of Behavior Modification

Jonathan Merritt recently interviewed Tullian Tchividjian, pastor and author of the new book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World (David C. Cook, 2013).

Tullian is the grandson of Billy Graham. And he seems to have Graham’s gift of stating things very plainly. Listen to what he says.

Tullian claims that grace has been “tragically hijacked by an oppressive religious moralism” that leads to condemning others in and outside the church. For these terrorists, it’s about rules, rules, and more rules!

Sadly, too many churches have helped to perpetuate the impression that Christianity is primarily concerned with legislating morality. Believe it or not, Christianity is not about good people getting better. If anything, it is good news for bad people coping with their failure to be good. Too many people have walked away from the church not because they’re walking away from Jesus, but because the church has walked away from Jesus.

That’s a hard pill to swallow for many evangelicals. And I’m glad to hear it coming from a reformed pastor. It needs to be said because it’s true.

I’ve seen it firsthand. I’m sure many of you have as well.

OK, maybe you don’t believe in legislating sin and supporting the Religious Right, but you may need to hear what Tullian says next.  Have you traded your identity in Christ for performance based spirituality?

Ironically, I’ve discovered that the more I focus on my need to get better, the worse I actually get—I become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our performance over Christ’s performance for us actually hinders spiritual growth because it makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective—the exact opposite of how the Bible describes what it means to be sanctified. Sanctification is forgetting about yourself.

What is the remedy for this neurosis of the soul? It is nothing more than discovering our true identity in the Christ of grace, and replacing our narcissistic self-absorption with an undying concern for others.

Read the full interview: Billy Graham’s grandson takes Christians to task: An interview with Tullian Tchividjian

What do you think about Tullian’s words of challenge and rebuke? How have you been discovering your true identity in Christ?

D.D. Flowers, 2013.


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