The campanile or freestanding bell tower in the Italian town of Pisa is on most tourists’ list when they are visiting Italy. The famous “Leaning tower of Pisa” is actually known world wide for the simple fact that it was not built on a solid foundation. The tilt actually began during it’s construction is the 12thcentury because the soil on one side was not solid.
I wonder if I am leaning some times. I know that like most new believers when I first became a Christian I leaned toward the rules. I did not know very much about the grace of God and I could clearly see that God emphasized rules in His descriptions of His relationship with Israel.
When one day a traveling evangelist assigned me a study on the grace of God it was a tectonic paradigm shift. I had to evaluate why I kept the rules, why God emphasized them and how I would address them in my daily walk. That assignment from our guest evangelist remains one of God’s greatest gifts to me. It put corrective lenses on my theological eyes.
I have spent a lifetime seeking a greater understanding about the balance of obedience and grace, and law and faith. To know that God calls me to recognize my brokenness against the back drop of His perfect law, and run to Jesus so He can rescue me, (Gal. 3:24) has helped me understand that God is trying to get us in to heaven not keep us out.
To understand that the grace of God is a gift, which by nature of its internal definition must be completely free has kept me from returning to a definition of God’s grace plus some element of my obedience. (Eph, 2:8-9)
The funny thing about this Biblically clear teaching is how controversial it can be. I have received more criticism over the years for this one teaching then any other. We like the lean of our lives to be toward a salvation that we pay for in some way. It is the way of the world. Of course we are described by the Bible as being in the world just not of it. (Jn. 17:16)
As the famous tower in Pisa was getting dangerously close to toppling over a few years ago after 800 years engineers were brought in to repair the foundation in 1990. It took about a decade (These things often take time) to straighten it to a “safe” angle of lean and reinforce the foundation with cement.
The heart of the believer must always search for corrective understandings from Scripture. We all lean in one way or another. But over time and with careful, humble, surrendered consideration of the revelation of truth from God’s word our foundations can be strengthened.