31 Of My Favorite Quotes from “One Way Love: Inexhaustible Grace For An Exhausted World” by Tullian Tchividjian

onewayloveIt’s possible to push people onto the mission of God and leave them exhausted because you have not immersed all of your work in the gospel. This is one of the things I believe God has revealed to me about the last place I was pastoring. I desperately wanted to see our church push beyond the church walls and make an impact within the community all around us. Yet, as I look back I don’t think I did a good enough job when it comes to leading people to experience the power, beauty and inspiration that is found in the good news of Jesus Christ. When our Christian life becomes focused on what we do and not our identity in Jesus Christ we soon experience burn out, fatigue and disillusionment. The book to your left, “One Way Love“, by Tullian Tchividjian is a needed call to go deeper into the sustaining power of the gospel for every area of life. The book helps us to see the implications of the gospel when it comes to ministry, marriage, parenting and overcoming the insatiable appetite of the sin nature that lives inside each one of us. Here are 31 of my favorite quotes from the book…

  • Anxiety, sleeping pills and performancism. The average high school student has the same level of anxiety as the average psychiatric patient in the early 1950’s. It turns out the problem was not limited to an age group. In 2007, The New York Times reported that three in ten American women confess to taking sleeping pills before bed most nights. The numbers are so high and unprecedented that some are calling it an epidemic…What I see more than anything else is an unquestioning embrace of performancism in all sectors of life. Performancism is the mindset that equates our identity and value directly to our performance and accomplishments. Performancism casts achievement not as something we do or don’t do but as something we are or aren’t. Those colleges those teenagers eventually attend will be more than the place they are educated-they will be the labels that define the students’ values as human beings in the eyes of their peers, their parents, and themselves. The money we earn, the cars we drive aren’t merely reflective our occupation; they are reflective of us; period. How we look, how intelligent we are, and what people think of us are more than descriptive; they are synonymous with our worth. In the world of performancism, success equals life, and failure is tantamount to death. This is the reason why people would rather end their lives than confess that they’ve lost their jobs or made a bad investment. P. 19-20
  • Is Christianity about what we do? Sadly, the Christian church has not proven to be immune to performancism. Far from it, in fact. In recent years, a handful of books have been published urging a more robust, radical, and sacrificial expression of the Christian faith. I even wrote one of them-Unfashionable:Making A Difference In The World By Being Different. I heartily amen the desire to take one’s faith seriously and demonstrate before the watching world a willingness to be more than Sunday morning churchgoers. That Christians would want to engage the wider community with God’s sacrificial love-living for their neighbors instead of for themselves-is a wonderful thing and should be applauded. The unintended consequences of this push, however, is that if we’re not careful, we can give people the impression that Christianity is first and foremost about the sacrifice we make for Jesus rather than the sacrifice Jesus made for us; our performance for him, rather than his performance for us; our obedience for him rather than his obedience for us. The hub of Christianity is not “do something for Jesus.” The hub of Christianity is “Jesus has done everything for you.” P. 21
  • People leaving the church. Too many people have walked away from the church, not because they are walking away from Jesus, but because the church has walked away from Jesus. P. 22
  • The undomesticated gospel. It is time for us to abandon, once and for all, our play-it-safe religion and get drunk on grace. Two-hundred-proof, unflinching grace. It’s shocking and scary, unnatural and undomesticated, but it is also the only thing that can set us free and light the church-and the world-one fire. P. 25
  • Working hard to keep the love of God. Or maybe it is more subtle than that. Maybe you are a Christian, and you rightly believe that God forgave you your past indiscretions-that was what drew you to him in the first place. But once you made that initial Christian commitment, it was time to get your act together and be serious. We conclude that it was God’s blood, sweat, and tears that got us in, but that it’s our blood, sweat, and tears that keep us in. We view God as a glorified bookkeeper, tallying our failures and successes on His cosmic ledger. We conclude that in order for God to love us, we have to change, grow, and be good. P. 30
  • What is one-way love? Grace doesn’t make demands. It just gives. And from our vantage point, it always gives to the wrong person. We see this over and over again in the Gospels: Jesus is always giving to the wrong people-prostitutes, tax collectors, half-breeds. The most extravagant sinners of Jesus’ day receive his most compassionate welcome. Grace is a divine vulgarity that stands caution on its head. It refuses to play it safe and lay it up. Grace is recklessly generous, uncomfortably promiscuous. It doesn’t use sticks, carrots or time cards. It doesn’t keep score. As Robert Capon puts it, “Grace works without requiring anything on our part. It’s not expensive. It’s not even cheap. It’s free.” It refuses to be controlled by our innate sense of fairness, reciprocity and evenhandedness. It defies logic. It has nothing to do with earning, merit, or deservedness. It is opposed to what is owed. It doesn’t expect a return on investments. It is a liberating contradiction between what we deserve and what we get. Grace is unconditional acceptance given to an undeserving person by an unobligated giver. It is one-way love. P. 33
  • Stories from Tullian’s rebellious days. Grace and Law. My parents were loved in our community, and their friends could see the heartache they were going through with me. I remember two separate instances of people caring enough to ask them for permission to talk with me one-one-one to see if maybe they could get through to me. The first time was early one, when I was still living at home. Their friend picked me up after school, brought me to Burger King, and read me the riot act. “Look at all that God’s given you. You’re squandering everything. Your making your parent’ life a living hell, acting so selfishly, not considering your siblings. You go to a private school. You have this remarkable heritage. Shape up man! Snap out of it! Of course, he was 100 percent right. In fact if he had known the full truth of what I was up to (and what was in my heart), he would have had every reason to be even harsher. But in the first five minutes of this guy talking to me, I could tell where it was going, and I just tuned out. As far as I was concerned, it was white noise. I could not wait for it to be over and for him to drop me back off at home. This first friend was the voice of the law. He was articulating the standard that I was falling short of-and what I should have been doing-and he couldn’t have been more correct. The condemnation was entirely justified. His words have an accurate description of who I was at that moment. But that’s the curious thing about the law and judgment in general: it can tell us who we are, it can tell us the right thing to do, but it cannot inspire us to do that thing or be that person. In fact, it often creates the opposite reaction than the one that is intended. It certainly did for me! I don’t blame the man in question-he was trying to do the right thing. It’s just that his methods completely backfired. The second experience happened about a year and a half later, and by this time I was out of the house. This man called me and said, “I’d love to meet with you.” And I thought, Oh no, another one of my parents’ friends trying to set me straight. But I didn’t want to make things worse between my parents and me, and the free meal didn’t sound too bad either, so I agreed to get together with him. Once we were at the restaurant, he just looked at me and said, “Listen, I know you’re going through a tough time, and I know life must seem very confusing right now. And I just want to tell you that I love you, I’m here for you, and I think God’s going to do great things with you.  Here’s my phone number, If you need anything, call me. I just want you to know that I’m here for you.” And then he switched the subject and started talking about sports. That guy-the second guy-is still a friend of mine to this day. He will forever be marked in my personal history as an example of amazing grace. P. 45-46
  • For people that think they’re good, grace is frustrating. P. 47
  • It’s when we come to the end of ourselves that we come to the beginning of grace. P. 55
  • Steve Brown once told me something I will never forget. he said, “Children will run from the law, and they’ll run from grace. The ones who run from the law never come back. But the ones who run from grace always come back. Grace draws its own back home. P. 57
  • I’ll never forget hearing Dr. Doug Kelly (one of my theology professors in seminary) say in class, “If you want to make people mad, preach law. If you want to make them really, really mad, preach grace. I didn’t know what he meant then. But I do now. P.72
  • Hearing the voice that rids us of anxiety. The gospel of grace announces that Jesus came to acquit the guilty. He came to judge and to be judged in our place. Christ came to satisfy the deep accusation against us once and for all so that we can be free from the judgment of God, others, and ourselves. He came to relieve us of our endlessly exhausting efforts of trying to deal with judgment on our own. The gospel declares that our guilt has been atoned for, the Law has been fulfilled. So we don’t need to live under the burden of trying to appease the judgment we feel; in Christ, the ultimate demand has been met, the deepest judgment has been satisfied. The internal voice that says, “Do this and live” get drowned out by the external voice that says, “It is finished.” P. 73
  • How to alienate your spouse, family, friends or church. Most parents and spouses, siblings and friends-even preachers-fall prey to the illusion that real change happens when we lay down the law, exercise control, demand good performance, or offer “constructive” criticism. We wonder why our husbands grow increasingly withdrawn over the years, why our children don’t call as much as we would like them to, why our colleagues don’t confide in us, why our congregants become relationally and emotionally detached from us. In more cases than not, it happens because we are feeding their deep fear of judgment-by playing the judge. Our lips may be moving, but the voice they hear is that of the law. The law may have the power to instruct and expose, but it does not have the power to inspire or create. P. 81
  • Guilt and fear can be powerful motivators in the short run. What they cannot do is change a heart from self-seeking to self-sacrificing. P. 89
  • Pastors who resent their congregations. It makes me sad that some pastors invoke Mr. Crews’s tactics from the pulpit. Frustrated with their congregation’s failure to come to church enough, get involved enough, give enough money, pray enough, read their Bibles enough, invite their friends enough, so many pastors use their position to send verbal letters. “How can you afford your fancy SUV but not give more to the church? How can you take your kid to their soccer game every Sunday but never bring them to youth group?” Pastors who resent their congregations are just like husbands who resent their wives-the resulting guilt may produce some modified behavior for awhile, but estrangement and rebellion are inevitable. P. 89-90
  • What you didn’t know about Utah. We live in a country where the state most known for its wholesomeness and frugality, Utah, also leads the country in rates of pornography consumption and antidepressant prescriptions. P. 91
  • The one-way love of God meets us in our failures. Our failures make His one-way love that much more glorious. What qualifies us for service is God’s devotion to us-not our devotion to Him. This is as plainly as I can say it: the value of our lives rests on God’s infinite, incomprehensible, unconditional love for us-not our love for Him. Such relief! We can finally exhale! P. 115
  • Love and grace given to the least likely candidates. Zacchaeus was essentially the Bernie Madoff of Jericho. P. 124
  • Grace and preaching. I know what you’re thinking. If the key to inspiring altruism and moral behavior and general well-being is fostering an “attitude of gratitude,” and gratitude is the natural response to the good news of the gospel, why don’t more churches preach grace every week? The common misunderstanding, especially in the church, is that moral compliance comes through responsible instruction and exhortation, that in order to ensure good behavior in our fellow man, we need the law. One of the church’s main tasks, therefore, is to tell people what to do. But that’s not what we see in the story of Zacchaeus, and that’s not what we see in our own lives either. P. 128
  • Behavioral modification. Sadly, while attacks on morality typically come from outside the church, attacks on grace typically come from inside the church. The reason is because somewhere along the way, we’ve come to believe that this whole enterprise is about behavioral modification, and grace just doesn’t possess the teeth to scare us into changing, so we end up hearing more about what grace isn’t than we do about what grace is…Where disobedience flourishes, it is not the fault of too much grace but rather the failure to grasp the depth of God’s one-way love for us in the midst of our transgressions and greed. Grace and obedience are not enemies, not by a long shot. P. 129
  • We attend and promulgate churches that preach “humanity and it improved” rather than “Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). P. 131
  • Grace inspires what the Law demands. P. 135
  • Who am I? Such self-reflection never finds peace in itself. (quoted from German Theologian Oswald Bayer) P. 148
  • Earrings, grace and a cool story about Ruth Graham! For example, I wore earrings back in those days. One in the left, and one in the right. It used to drive my parents nuts. Every time my grandmother-Ruth Graham-came down to visit, she would bring me fresh earrings to wear…It may sound trivial, but it meant the world to me. Everyone else was on my case, and instead of giving me one more thing to rebel against, my grandparents drew me in closer. P. 156
  • We love those who know the worst of us and don’t turn their faces away. (quoted from Walker Percy) P. 157
  • As Doug Wilson put it recently, “Grace is wild. Grace unsettles everything. Grace overflows the banks. Grace messes up your hair. Grace is not tame. In fact, unless we are making the devout nervous, we are not preaching grace as we ought.” P. 180
  • But if a person can be given the space to bask in the Good News for a while (without being hammered with fresh injunctions), we just as often find that the Gospel of grace, in the long run, actually empowers risk-taking effort and neighbor embracing love. P. 188
  • There seems to be a fear out there that preaching grace produces serial killers. P. 190
  • The fact is, the only way any of us ever start to live a life of true obedience is when we get a taste of God’s radical, unconditional acceptance of sinners. The message that justifies is the same message that sanctifies. P. 193
  • The Gospel is not a command to hang on to Jesus. It’s a promise that no matter how weak your faith and how unsuccessful your efforts might be, God is always holding onto you. P. 211
  • For many, their experience in church, theoretically a sanctuary from striving, has perpetuated, not relieved, their exhaustion. P. 213

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