“You don’t get it. You're too young. We couldn’t get away with any of this at Key Life 10 years ago…the church has changed. And thank God,” I said the other day.

Back even just 10 years ago (and certainly 15-20 years ago) the theological, cultural and institutional gatekeepers were in control. This was true in the church. This was true on Christian radio. This was true in Christian publishing. And Key Life lived under their sway. They determined who was “in” and who was “out.” They determined who had the power and how much (if any).  They determined who was “Christian” and who wasn’t “Christian.”

And it all had very little to do with Jesus Christ.

The gatekeepers had highly sensitive ears and eyes. I remember trying to persuade my father not to use certain words. “Homeschooling” and “Harry” (as in “Potter”) come to mind. God forbid if he said anything negative about the first or anything positive about the second. And don’t get me started on the severe and quick consequences if he was on the “wrong side” of drinking, dancing and smoking.

They probably thought they were defending God. Perhaps they were just more holy and loved God more than we did. Above all else, they were terrified of getting out of line…and fear is the great oppressor.

They probably thought they were defending God.

Key Life has always been about grace, the Good News of the Gospel for sinners and sufferers. That is our one and only message. Back then, when grace was “new,” it wasn’t accepted, encouraged or taught. And we paid the price for doing so. We heard quite often from listeners, “No one ever told me this before!” That made me sad…and frankly frustrated that Key Life even had to exist in the first place.

Back then, we were allowed to teach and promote grace…but Key Life was seen as  “our crazy uncle.” We were tolerated as a member of the family, invited to the Thanksgiving table, but only benignly smiled at during dinner because to engage further would only encourage us…and then who knew what might happen. After all, the grace message might go to our heads, to all of our heads.

Grace has not always been the watchword of the church. Grace has not always been the “cool kid” in the room.

Back then, unless you had graduated with a seminary degree, served as a pastor and written a book, you had no voice. You just didn’t have authority. Today, we all have a voice, we all have a microphone, we all have “followers,” we all have a place at the table…with or without authority. There is room to breathe. There is community. We are truly the family of the free. But it wasn’t always that way. Far from it.

So run to Jesus. Celebrate. Dance. Enjoy your freedom. Revel in the fact that your Father loves you…without the kicker.

Thank God.

There are no longer gatekeepers. There aren’t even gates. Jesus Christ broke them all open and tore them down. So run free.