Grace Killers

I was tipped off a couple of weeks ago that a particular religious group was going to be picketing at our Cross Point Nashville campus. I’m not going to link the group or give them any extra attention (which I believe is what they’re really seeking) but this group is known for showing up at churches, religious organizations, and funerals of service men with picket signs. I don’t know any other way to describe them but as religious bigots.

They didn’t show that Sunday. They did come to Nashville as expected but stopped at another church. There was a part of me that was really looking forward to confronting them. I’ve rehearsed my speech to them in my head over and over.

I remember hearing Matt Chandler say, “We must be gracious to the grace killers.”

I honestly hate that.

Grace to sinners? Yep.

Grace to screw ups? No problem.

Grace to self righteous, pride filled, judgmental types? Ummmmmm, not so quick.

The problem is if you don’t extend grace to the grace killers….well…. you are them.


58 Responses to “Grace Killers”

  1. Ahh let me think. Did they come to Nashville and help with the flood relief? Are they rescuing lost people with the life-giving gospel of grace? Are they encouraging people to live lives of honesty and purity before God and others? Are they building those who serve our country? No? Rats. I reckon they do need grace. Great point today Pete. Praying for your response when/if they do come.

  2. Jeremy says:

    “if you don’t extend grace to the grace killers… well… you are them.”

    This is an absolutely awesome expression of who we are called to be, and how we are called to act. I don’t have it figured out yet (far from it), but I recognize that this is an area where I need an abundance of grace from other people and I need God to grant me abundant grace to give to them.

  3. John Ireland says:

    tough one, for sure.

    the challenge would have been (in the situation you described) displaying grace and, at the same time, making it unmistakably clear that you oppose their stance and abhor their behavior.

    grace toward the dignity of the person does not have to come with tolerance of their actions.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      I think it’s one of the greatest challenges of my walk with Christ John. Balancing grace and truth is a daily battle with me.

    • M Mullins says:

      Great comments. No denying Jesus’ grace while He walked among us but certainly would not question His willingness to quickly and with absolute commitment single out those grace-killers and call them to account. Pharisees, Sadducees, Temple sellers, etc. (Mathew 3:7 …you brood of Vipers!…”

      I think we can also agree that Paul was not the most tolerant dude who carried the ‘Christian’ torch.

      Love the Sinner, hate the sin? Yes! Accept this group’s behavior? No! Pray for grace in dealing with them? Absolutely.

      • Pete Wilson says:

        Totally agree. I was addressing more of my secret satisfaction in dressing them down. I disagree with them and will publicly disagree with them but want to do it in a Christ like way.

        • Bill says:

          I was working on a post at another blog, when the brood of vipers verses came up in regard to civility – from my reading, Jesus and John the Baptizer were addressing crowds as opposed to singling out individuals directly – seems to make a difference, and when addressing individual pharisees, seemed to be able to deal with them directly without perjorative

  4. Kenny Silva says:

    I was on my way to the Bellevue Campus opening when I passed them on the corner of Christ Church, which is right next to where I live. I couldn’t really comprehend the connection between the hateful messages on their signs and the love of Christ. At that moment, I was certainly not considering showing them any sort of grace, but you’re right. Who are we if we can’t show limitless compassion to those who we think may not deserve it? We don’t get to make that call. Christ’s powerful words in Matthew 5, verses 38-40 pretty much cover it. In that moment, I wish I could’ve easily replaced my anger and outrage with those words, but I’m far from perfect.
    .-= Kenny Silva´s last blog ..My Path Revealed… =-.

  5. Do you know what always sticks with me? That sunday you had the yellow flags and compared Christians to referees calling penalties. It has made me rethink judgement and grace and been a gut check to think is it my job to call out another’s sin or to look inside and deal with my own.
    .-= Lindsey Nobles´s last blog ..Ahhhh, Relaxation =-.

  6. sherri says:

    SO true.

    These folks showed up at a funeral in my small hometown of a soldier who had died fighting in Iraq- it was HORRIBLE.

    They not only held signs, they yelled horrible things as the family arrived and left with his body. They sangs horrible songs-I would never repeat the lyrics, and phrases-my heart was broken.

    Can’t imagine my son dying, giving his life for others so they could be free, and people (that HE DIED FOR) yelling, and mocking…..

    and then it hit me….
    .-= sherri´s last blog ..Need Some Inspiration? =-.

    • Helen says:

      Sherri, that is heartbreaking. I would be so angry at the picketers for the extra pain and grief they caused this family. Actually, I already am, and I wasn’t even there.
      Extending grace to someone who hurts me personally is difficult, but I KNOW it is what God wants from me.
      Extending it to those who hurt someone else… Someone who is already hurting? I don’t know if I can do it…
      .-= Helen´s last blog ..Pictures of Pirate Fest =-.

    • Shannon says:

      Wow Sherri. It took me a minute to understand… they mocked him… just like what was done to Jesus at the cross. Wow.

      Luke 23:34 (NIV)
      34Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.”

    • Jen says:

      Seriously, how do people NOT punch them out?
      .-= Jen´s last blog ..FOR MY SIXTH, AT TEN WEEKS =-.

      • sherri says:

        Very hard to stand there- our streets were filled with people (including many bikers) holding American flags in his honor.
        We were warned by police to not respond to the other group- because they make the money to travel to these funerals by lawsuits against those who have punched them, etc. It was VERY hard- and yes, Helen- like you said- even harder because of who they were doing it to- and at the boy’s FUNERAL of all places.
        One of the hardest things I’ve done.
        I watched my own teenage son, across the street holding his flag proudly- from that day on- his hand was over his heart during the National Anthem- as opposed to just standing at attention as most do in my area when our Anthem is being played.
        .-= sherri´s last blog ..Need Some Inspiration? =-.

  7. Shelley says:

    Another great post. I think that what you speak of is difficult to do – especially if we go about it using our own “strength”. If we do that (use our own strength), we’ll fail at what we are setting out to accomplish. Hope that makes sense…

    As I read Lindsey’s comment above, it reminded me of the passage about examining the plank in your own eye before examining the speck in someone else’s. Not sure if that would apply to this situation or not, but that’s what I thought of.
    .-= Shelley´s last blog ..God Has A Plan =-.

  8. Jason says:

    I had a chance a few years ago to confront someone similar to Fred at Missouri State University a few years ago and it saddened me the way they dismissed God’s word when it conflicted with their hate filled diatribes. It’s hard to extend grace when you’re disconnected from the hate via a computer screen or newspaper…it’s almost impossible when the hate is shouting in your face.
    .-= Jason´s last blog ..Taking that step… =-.

  9. Kim says:

    That would be tough. But the fact that you recognize the need to extend grace to these people is half the battle. I think sometimes we are so offended by peoples actions we completely forget about the grace part. I do believe I just found another weak spot I need to shore up.
    .-= Kim´s last blog ..Biblical Temper Tantrums =-.

  10. Chrissy says:

    Ah. When you mentioned a group, I wondered if THIS was the group you meant.

    As hard as it might be, I truly believe you are better not to acknowledge them. They’re looking for any way they can find to damage the testimony of true believers. Don’t let them get under your skin, because then, they win.

    Truth is, whatever it is you want to say about them (or TO them), they’ve already heard and people already know. It doesn’t need to be said again and you’re a better person for just letting it roll off your back… as hard as that might be!

    Thank you for being a blessing to me, today and every day!
    .-= Chrissy´s last blog ..Favorite Things Thurday – Summer Blockbuster Edition =-.

  11. britt says:

    I have no idea why they could be upset at our church..and of course, the unchurchlike part of me -sure is curious. ha

    When I think of the concept and application of extending grace, I usually think of it as forgiving and loving people who may have hurt ME.
    When I think about (grace killer) people picketing mourning families of fallen soldiers… my angry and confrontational feelings feel more like ones of protection.

  12. I twittered this the other day…

    “A true sign that you understand grace is when you can give grace to people who are convinced they don’t need it.”

    I have come to realize that until I can give grace to the self-righteous and the elder brothers among us…that I really don’t understand grace.

    Great post!

  13. Nigel says:

    Very true, Pete. Very true.
    .-= Nigel´s last blog ..Happy June, y’all =-.

  14. O. says:

    Reminds me of a documentary I recently watched about this group. In response to their picketing, some local church groups baked cookies and served them to the protesters. Simple, grace-filled gesture.
    .-= O.´s last blog ..I know… =-.

  15. Kip McDonald says:

    Pete, I follow you on Twitter. I also ride with a motorcycle group that honors veterans that is a frequent target of this group.

    Your post is timely in that I will be preaching on this very subject Sunday.

    Thank you for sharing your experience with this. I will be reading the responses. :)


  16. Manda says:

    As much as I don’t want to admit it… I’ve been a Grace killer ~ self-righteous, judgmental. Such an ugly thing to be. Praise God that He gives me so much Grace that I can bow it out to those who try and kill it. Only in His strength and mercy.
    Thank-you for this reminder!
    .-= Manda´s last blog ..A time to Wait for the Harvest… =-.

  17. Miki says:

    Maybe I’m wrong here, but even Jesus went into the temple court and flipped tables. He, and his disciples, called out the religious of their day and confronted them with TRUTH. If your heart in confrontation is to call them to true righteousness, then go baby go!!

    The thing I hate most is that it’s groups like these that get media attention and make the country think that true Christians are all like these people.

    Good luck and God’s speed!

    • Joseph says:

      This is where I was going. I have seen this group and it drives me crazy.
      I think we have to defend ourselves to often for what we believe instead of just enjoying what we believe. Maybe not the best way to put it but hopefully you get where I am coming from.
      I am not sure how to extend grace to folks that I have a hard time stomaching.
      Guess it is something I really need to learn.

  18. The same group listed my church (Destiny Church, Broken Arrow, Ok) as a target awhile back. My pastor said the same thing, and it should be expressed to other churches that they’re funding comes solely from lawsuits that occur. That’s why we don’t confront them, we walk in grace. They’re successful in their evil bc we lose it and confront them, with mostly good intentions. Then they file a lawsuit, a dirty one, and most of the time the church will at least settle just to avoid further litigation. Just a heads up, they profit monetarily and naturally when we don’t cling to grace.

  19. I would love to have heard your sermon with yellow flags comparing Christians to referees calling penalties. I am not sure I totally understand what “grace” means in this context. For me personally, it would be hard to restrain myself from saying anything negative back. But then again, I would have to ask myself, “What good would it be to try to convince or reason with those who are only spewing hate?” Perhaps the phrase, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” ultimately means that our unkind words and actions toward others hurts God. Thanks for sharing a better way to look an awful situation!

    • Sherie says:

      JoAnne, I also ask the question of what “grace” means in different context. God has taken me back to “Love your neighbor”, and then has asked me questions like, “Are you willing to invite them inside your church?”, “Did you see them hungry and feed them?” (maybe the hunger is for spiritual food), “Can you speak to them without hostility and see them as image bearers of my image?”, and “You see their words/actions as offensive, but is there anything in your life that you think I see as offensive? How is it any different?”

      I am left recognizing the grace I need and don’t have, and the only place to get that is from the Lord. I walk away humbled and realize that because of the love, grace, and forgiveness I have needed and received, my heart should be overflowing with the same for others. I am usually left confessing my need instead of judging others, and then I am driven to love.
      .-= Sherie´s last blog ..Cocoons Produce Butterflies =-.

  20. Ric says:

    Okay, you can take the high ground, Pete; give me your speech and I’ll let ’em have it.

    No, that’s wrong… I should come up with my own material. lol
    .-= Ric´s last blog ..Tiger-Face Boy =-.

  21. patricia says:

    the measure we judge others will be the same measure God will judge us.

    that’s a scary thought right there.

  22. JuliaKate says:

    i can get so irritated by groups as you described. heck, i can get so irritated walking in to almost any local church. i had a change last year in my heart where i began to see many churches/religious organizations as the prodigals. they have removed themselves so far from the Father’s grace that they can’t even remember what grace looks like. instead of pointing my finger and calling out “Pharisee!”, i have softened my eyes, my tone, and let God soften my heart… these are prodigals… annoying, loud, extremely harmful to the cause of Christ prodigals, but prodigals none the less.
    As always, great post Pete;)
    .-= JuliaKate´s last blog ..interview with a covert conspirator… =-.

  23. Amy says:

    The no name church picketed my daughter’s high school on June 1. Out the window went my belief that we were immune or safe from them.

    I agree that they are attention seekers.

    And grace to the grace killers. UGH.
    .-= Amy´s last blog ..I want you to meet =-.

  24. Lauren Kelly says:

    Wow, profound and dead on!!! Glad they didn’t show up at your church but at the same time wish they would have, they would have gotten a glimpse of God. Not that they were looking but nonetheless, they wouldn’t have gone there without sensing his presence!!!

  25. Bet “they” didn’t expect God to be lifted so high in a blog post today & reach thousands of hearts. Grace has legs. Hate has stumps.

    There will be no picket lines or grace killers when we get home (the true meaning of Home Sweet Home.) Thanks to this kind of blog post we get a taste of grace here and now.

    Thanks for keeping it real – even if at times it’s REAL hard!


  26. Randy Wood says:

    Can I beat them up… and then pray for their healing?? :)

  27. woody says:

    What’s So Amazing About Grace? Yancey. Radically changed the way I live about 11 years ago. The church can be full of ‘un-graceful’ people. I constantly pray I am not that kind of church member. Loving those who hate is very hard. But if don’t love them, do I hate them?

  28. On the other hand, if those guys show up, it’s kinda like a seal of approval. You know you’re doing something right.
    .-= Paul from Canada´s last blog ..Christianity Add-Ons =-.

  29. Tom Raines says:

    Thanks for showing grace and the fact that it’s ok to say you just don’t want to or feel like it! These vipers can be called vipers though, right?
    .-= Tom Raines´s last blog ..Today’s Affirmation: God strengthens my weak hands and steadies my shaking knees. =-.

  30. Vicki says:

    Would love to hear what your speech was going to be…

    This is an area that I am chipping away at. Someone recently said the very thing that you hate (extending grace to ‘sinners’) is very much my weakest thing about ME. Ouch. And true. I am so good at finding planks in the eyes of others without noticing the Giant Redwood hanging out of my own eye. Got to get busy extending grace early and often so I can see again with spiritual eyes – Christ-like vision.

  31. kelly says:

    This was very timely for a pharisee wrestling match I’ve been privy to this week- The pharisees wrestling with me, me wrestling with myself to keep quiet…so thanks for sharing!


  32. Amanda Sims says:

    The hard part for me is when I have to give grace to the Grace Killers when they are trying to get in the way of showing grace to the sinners and screw-ups.

    I’ve really got to work on this. Ugh.
    .-= Amanda Sims´s last blog ..Lessons from a Swimming Pool =-.

  33. Louise Cassel says:

    I don’t agree, Jesus called the pharisees a brood of vipers, and a lot of other bad names. He didn’t give them grace.

    • Pete Wilson says:

      I disagree Louise. He ultimately died on a cross for them. If that isn’t grace I don’t know what is.

      In my own personal confession I wasn’t alluding to the actual words of truth I would share with this group. I think what was wrong for me was just how excited I was to share them. How I wanted to prove I was right and they were wrong.

  34. Julie R. says:

    I live in a community where this particular group showed up after a horrific auto accident that killed 4 local teenage girls; 1 of which was a senior in high school and would have graduated this past May. I have trouble extending grace to people who believe they are already above and beyond it. I pray that God forgives me when I fail in my thinking about this group. With that said, I simply try NOT to think about it. Pete, I wonder how, or why you or anyone else would even try to say anything to them, as they only allow their own view points to be heard (they scream and shout it out constantly) and when anyone tries to approach them, they WILL NOT LISTEN. THEIR HEARTS AND SOULS ARE HARDENED. I wonder if they aren’t bordering on blasphemy… Which if I am not mistaken means that even Christ turns His back on Blasphemers, correct? So how do you know if what you are saying is right, given the above mentioned facts. Isn’t it better to ignore it, not because it will “make it go away” but because it is better to keep silent than to risk losing your God given values on a crusade, even if it is one you undertake in His name?
    .-= Julie R.´s last blog ..My God Box =-.

  35. A Friend says:

    Your new Pastor (and his wife) is a great example of Grace and what it looks like.

  36. jule says:

    the letter of the law KILLS always … but the Spirit gives life…. religion is bad.. religious people are blinded and deceived majorly.. .they do NOT operate in ‘the more excellent way which is love’ …. Jesus paid a horrendous costly price to buy us back from the devil… unfortunately legalistic law is preached and encouraged in many denominations and the result is wounded, bitter, rejected people who really would love Jesus but can’t because they can’t get past ‘his so-called followers’ GOD LORD JESUS have mercy upon these people!!!!

    • JuliaKate says:

      “Religion is bad…religious people are blinded and deceived majorly…”
      Just for the record:
      Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
      James 1:27
      .-= JuliaKate´s last blog ..interview with a covert conspirator… =-.

  37. Aaron Reddin says:

    Pete, I don’t mind being the bad guy in this situation. If you like, I’ll come to Nashvegas and throw rocks at them while you guys continue having your service. It will be our little secret. Nobody has to know you’re aware. Just do this: if you want me to come throw rocks, don’t respond to this comment. If you don’t want me to, then don’t respond to this comment and I’ll think that means you want me to. I think it will work!! 😉
    .-= Aaron Reddin´s last blog ..This Will Make Even the Most Morbidly Conservative Folks Love Obama! =-.

  38. This group picked us twice I think.

    Grace to the grace killers is very hard. I just don’t get all that hate they have on the name of Jesus.
    .-= Carole Turner´s last blog ..Funky town, last Sunday.. =-.

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  40. Chrystie says:

    Ouch. Convicting post.
    .-= Chrystie´s last blog ..Even When The Rain Comes… =-.

  41. […] HATE this guy. Pastor Pete says we have to have grace for the grace-killers or else we are just like them and while I totally agree, I am not there yet. I read that article […]

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