Thoughts on Kingdom, Church, and Grace from an American living in Hong Kong

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

More Thoughts on God's Grace

The Grace of God has become new to me... all over again. That's one (of many) things I love about God. Just when you think you reached the top step of understanding in an area, He opens the door, and there's a whole 'nother staircase.

And now, after 34 years of being a Christian and 20 years of pastoral ministry I realize I'm just scratching the surface in my understanding of God's "Unmerited Favor".

In the last few months I've been exposed to some powerful teachings on Grace. Whether from guys like Rob Rufus at City Church International, old friends like Paul Ellis, or new acquaintances like Cornel Marais I've been challenged to see what the Grace of God can do when it is not just applied to my own relationship with God, but when it is unleashed on the church.

Now understand, the fact that we do not have to earn God's favor was a concept that came pretty easy to me. That my Heavenly Father loved me despite my behavior was normal because that was the relation I had with my earthly father. I never had to earn my parents love. If I behaved well, they loved me; if I behaved badly, they loved me. My position in the family did not change. Earning or performing were not part of my upbringing...

But the church is full of people today who think that when they sin, somehow they are outside the covering of God and once they repent, they are welcomed back in. I don't think our relationship with God is that fragile, and at worst it nullifies in our hearts the sacrifice Christ made on the cross. Our standing before God rests on Christ's actions, not ours. (Thank God :)

What if, though, people were freed of the constant burden of spending most of their time trying to get "right" with God? What if we people didn't feel like they had to expend so much effort simply trying to get back to the starting line?

Take for instance, "men's groups" in church. I can't tell you how many of these I've been part of over the years, and they nearly all end up the same. Rather than preparing, equipping, and unleashing men for leadership in the church, they degenerate into "how to overcome sexual temptation discussions". The Grace of God and an understanding of His righteousness is replaced with trying to overcome sin on our own strength...and because we can NEVER do that, our effectiveness for the Kingdom of God is buried under the crippling weight of guilt and shame!

And that is just one small example...

* What if the church didn't grasp after the latest leadership or organizational "model" but embraced Grace?

* What if we stopped trying to analyze how "authentic" or "relevant" we are and instead enjoyed a journey with God that was paved in His Grace?

* What if we didn't focus on ourselves, but on the the Grace that comes to us through Jesus Christ?

MMmmmm...What if?


Bob said...

Great, Steve. And I am right there with you re: the Men's Groups. I gave them up long ago. I also quit reading the latest and greatest books on being a "Godly Man" or "the man God called (me) to be" because I always felt like I fell short. I was never the man described in the books. And I finally believed I don't have to be.

Steve H. said...

I know what you mean Bob, especially regarding Men's meetings. I also think they do this artificial macho thing at times which doesn't seem natural. Thankfully I have learned to have grace even for those events as well :)