By Kyle Idleman
This is an excerpt from the forward in the book, Messy Grace by Caleb Kaltenbach.
I first met Caleb in college. He was a freshman, and I was a junior. He came with very little knowledge of the Bible (he was a new Christian), but he possessed a huge love for God and people. I saw Caleb as someone eager to learn about God and to make a difference in the world.
One day we were both sitting outside a professor’s office, waiting to talk to him about a class. I asked Caleb how he came to Bible college and sat in disbelief as he told me about himself. I had never heard a story like his before.
Watch the Messy Grace Study Trailer and hear Caleb describe his experience of living in the tension between truth and grace.
Loving People Who are Different
After graduation, Caleb and I were on staff together at a church in Los Angeles. There we started an alternative worship service for young adults. During that time, I watched Caleb deepen his love for God and people. Because of his childhood experiences, he was able to relate with those who disdained Christians. He understood what it was like to be angry at God for the way believers treated others. God certainly used Caleb’s experiences to touch the hearts of many people. Now, after knowing him for twenty years, I’m still blown away by how God continues to write this story.
Throughout the years I’ve encouraged Caleb to share his story with as many people as he can. Many of us have told him again and again to write it down. Today, I’m proud that you’re holding it in your hands. Such messy grace takes great courage to share.
God Can Redeem Any Story
Some authors have inspirational stories to tell, while others have insightful points to make. What makes Caleb’s writing so powerful is that God has given him both. You’ll read about a boy who was raised in the LGBT community, who later followed Jesus. You’ll read about how some Christians hated people he loved, and how his coming to faith wrecked his own relationships. You’ll read about how Christians can hold true to what God says about sexuality while being gracious and loving.
If you think this story is just about a kid from the LGBT community, then you’ve missed the bigger point. It’s about how we love people who are different from us. It’s about how any story can be redeemed by God. It’s about the messiness of grace and truth.
When you read this book, you may not agree with everything Caleb says, but you’ll see his heart for people on both sides of the issue. I’ve been personally impacted by what God has done through Caleb and his family. I know you will be too.
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