Tullian Tchividjian, grandson of the Rev. Billy Graham and Ruth Graham, recently published his latest book, One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace for an Exhausted World. He spoke with The Christian Post about his message in the book and how God's grace has played out in his own life. Here are some quotes from Tchividjian from his discussion with CP.
The theme of his book, One Way Love
"It's a book about grace, specifically God's grace, and the radical nature of God's grace and how that grace transforms our relationships on the ground, how it transforms our perspective on life, on work. It's really sort of an exposition on God's one way love, which is my definition for grace, and not only how that sets us free in terms of our need to somehow perform for God to get him to love us. But It also sets us free here on the ground of everyday life. So many of us are so tired because we're trying our best to secure love and meaning and approval and acceptance and those sorts of things though our work, through our children, through our relationships, whatever. When we come to terms with the fact that before God we are, because of what Jesus has done, forever loved, forever approved, forever accepted, our meaning worth value, security all of those things has been secured by Jesus and given to us, that sets us free on the ground of life to live without needing to get from people, so now you're free to give to people."
"The secondary theme of the book is how I think the Church has gotten off message and we have sort of in a sense sort of adopted a performance mindset inside the church. Church is the one place where people who are weary and heavy-laden should be able to come and find rest, so that when they leave they feel lighter that the pressure's off. They're reminded that everything you need, God has done for you in Jesus and given to you. Oftentimes, people don't leave worship services feeling like that. They feel more burdened, because they've been given a to-do list. They've been given a checklist of things they must do if they're gonna be a good Christian, a checklist of things they must do if they want God to really love them and even like them. I'm trying through this book to maybe help the church make some sort of a paradigm shift."
The focus of the Christian Faith
"Jesus said, 'Come to me all you who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest.' And then he rebuked the Pharisees by saying, 'You tie up heavy burdens and put them on people's shoulders. Burdens that are too big for them to bear.' I want to say, Jesus' yoke is easy and his burden is light. He has done for us what we could never do for ourselves. If you're a Christian, you live under a banner that reads 'It is finished.' You don't have to pay God back for anything. The focus of the Christian faith is not our performance for God, but God's performance for us in Jesus. It's not the sacrifices we make for God, but it's the sacrifice God made for us in Jesus. It's not first and foremost about our work, but God's work for us in Jesus. Hopefully the book in one sense shifts the focus away from me and how I'm doing and you and how you're doing, and puts it back on Jesus and what he did."
"I think there needs to be a seismic shift, first in pulpits. I think preachers need to get back to preaching the focus of the Christian faith, which has always been Jesus' work for sinners, not what we must do to get better. Now, in terms of why we don't believe it, or why it's so hard to live it, I just think ever since Gen. 3 when Adam and Eve determined not only for themselves but for the human race that they can do a better job than God, I think we've been trying our best to rescue ourselves and to save ourselves and to justify ourselves and to secure for ourselves righteousness, worth, meaning. We've been trying so hard to validate ourselves and I think that's something we will struggle with for the rest of our lives. As long as we're imperfect, sinful people, which every single person on this planet is, me first and foremost, we're going to struggle with that. God's grace is counter-intuitive, it doesn't make natural sense. It turns everything, in fact, that makes natural sense to us upside down."
On Millennials unaffiliated with any faith
"I think lots of people in that age group, they're bombarded with demands and pressure in every other sector of life, from teachers, from parents, bosses, co-workers, there's social pressure, professional pressure. There's all sorts of pressure and demands that people live with. Church should be the one place where wearied, burned out, tired people who feel like they're caring the weight of the world on their shoulders come to hear good news. That's what the Gospel is. And good news is not 'go out there and do x, y and z for God.' That's not good news.
"Good news is God has done a to z for you and you didn't deserve any of it, and He's done it. So now, you can leave here feeling lighter and more free, which actually makes you more productive. It doesn't make you less productive, it makes you more productive, because now you're not making investments relationally or professionally with your cards close to the chest going, 'I'm gonna measure my investments very carefully because I need a return on this investment to solidify my mean' or whatever. It's, 'I can invest recklessly and generously because I don't need a return on any of my investments. Everything I need, God has given me for free in Jesus.'"
On applying grace on tough issues, like sexuality
"It's hard. I, number one, recognize that heterosexual, homosexual, rich, poor, red, yellow, black white, old, young — we're desperate people, sinful people, disobedient people, rebellious people, all of us. I think Martin Luther, who's my hero from church history, who God used really to change the world of his day, he had this great line that helps me as a pastor and as a leader navigate what to do in certain situations, how to be and what to give people in certain situations. He said God's law is for the hard-hearted, and God's Gospel is for the brokenhearted. So I have to discern, depending on who I'm talking to, is this a hard-hearted person who needs the law of God to break them, or is this a broken-hearted person who needs God's Gospel, good news, the word of grace, to heal them. It takes a lot of prayer to discern. It's not easy to discern that the person in front of you his hard-hearted or broken-hearted."
"I do my best to try and not segregate sinners into certain categories, meaning, on the one hand, all sin according to the Bible is falling short of God's glory. All sin, according to the Bible, is failing to follow God's lead and go God's way and obey God's way, and that comes in all sorts of forms. Sexual sin is in a sense in a unique category because, according to the Bible, it's sinning against another person made in God's image. At the same time, I think the church in the last 25 years has been relatively selective. They've been a lot more tolerant, for instance, of sins like pride, self-righteousness and greed than they have sexual sins, or social sins, whatever those might be."
Read more about Tchividjian's new book, One Way Love, here: 'One Way Love' Author Tullian Tchividjian: Church Has Gone Off Course, Time for a New Reformation.