“Designer grace” is the idea that conditions have to be perfect in order for the gospel to be delivered effectively. It suggests that we need to understand the mindset of those committing a particular sin in order to properly share the gospel with them. Now, I know I tend to look at things in a pretty simple way, but it seems to me that designer grace hasn’t figured out that the chicken came before the egg! We are sharing the Savior with a world who does what they do because they are lost – not the other way around.
When I got saved, for instance, it wasn’t hard to define my depravity. I was a rebellious kid, hanging out with the party crowd. But you know something, no one ever tried to help me understand why I got drunk. And when I came to Christ, I didn’t get saved from alcohol – I got saved from bondage to my sin nature and its condemnation. My sin nature just showed itself in things like rebellion and drunkenness (Galatians 5:19-21). I wasn’t a sinner because I got drunk, I got drunk because I was a sinner.
I’m not suggesting that every person outside of Christ will get drunk. Someone’s sin nature may very well show out in jealousy, selfish ambition or envy. My point is this: we seem to be declaring a person’s lost state by focusing on one particular sin in his or her life. Being greedy doesn’t make a person lost but being lost can certainly make a person greedy. One of the biggest debates right now is whether or not a homosexual can also be a Christian. I firmly believe that a person isn’t lost because he or she is a homosexual, but because he or she doesn’t have a relationship with Christ.
Well-intentioned people have complicated the simplicity of the gospel by trying to develop conversations of understanding. This brand of outreach puts more emphasis on not being offensive than repentance, without which the person in question will die and go to hell. It can look more like behavioral modification than a supernatural encounter with a holy God. Some churches are so scared they might not get a second chance to share the gospel that they waste what may be their only chance.
If I’m overly sensitive about what attitudes and behaviors our culture currently views as acceptable, then I risk becoming oblivious to the work of the Holy Spirit in someone’s life. It’s not about making Christianity acceptable or accepting Christ followers as “normal” people. The gospel is about a lost world knowing that Jesus loves them and wants to have a relationship with them, regardless of what they’ve done and who they are. Jesus came to free us from bondage to our sin nature. I can tell you firsthand that His nature will change our behavior(s) (Ephesians 4:22-24 and Galatians 5:22-24). God doesn’t need our designer grace; He’s already designed it to fit “whosoever”. We just have to obediently share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with anyone at any time. Are you in?