Grace Community: What it is, Its Future, and Your Role in It – Part 1

Grace Community: What it is, Its Future, and Your Role in It

In the next week I want to revisit what “Grace Community is, Its Future, and Your Role (potentially) in It.” I want to say “it is a must read.” But you, of course, have freedom in Christ to read or not to read. So instead I beseech you to read the series of articles and to pray. We appeal to you personally. If Kristen and I have any goodwill to our credit, could we spend it here? In the end I will ask you to consider most prayerfully your role. It is my hope that regardless of what your answer is, the answer will be rooted in deliberate consideration and be the result of a prayerful process.

What is Grace Community? To answer that we must consider what Grace is and what Community is and then wed the two together.

What is Grace? Grace is unmerited favor. Grace is God choosing to overlook our obvious and sustained failures in lieu of a sustained loving nurturing and life-changing relationship with Him in Jesus Christ. I am inclined to take for granted that we all believe we have failed, that none (“no, not one”) of us can survive the scrutiny of God’s law. We “all fall short.” That may be a strategic mistake. At times we choose to live in denial. But we can honestly say we are without sin? If I have managed not to violate the Big Ten for the day (and that is a dubious claim – Honored your parents? Truly never coveted selfishly an outcome other than what you experienced? That is a regular occurrence around here), can I say without guile that I have no sins of omission? Have I loved my wife as much as Christ love the church or my neighbor as myself? I do not mean in theory. I mean literally. Do you have a wife? Do you have neighbors? Seriously in my case they raise the bar enough to show I don’t and can’t measure up.

Recently I read an article that had a great way of capturing grace. The author, a Christian counselor in the Wheaton area, says he no longer believes in Grace. He experienced grace such that he has come to believe “Grace believes in him.” He came home late one evening as was his custom. He had not played any role in parenting. The kids were already in bed. He kissed them good night. He was grumpy with his wife. How did she respond? She smiled and said you deserve to be grumpy. You work hard. There he stood with two realities, his grumpiness (read lack of Christ-like love for his wife) and his wife’s grace. Grace was the game changer. He apologized to his wife and she said gracefully she knew he would. She sees in him what is not there. Grace believes in him, his inherent value and what he might become in Christ Jesus.

My favorite way of describing grace is what I say to my children. “You cannot do anything to make me love you more. And you cannot do anything to make me love you less. I just love you.” My love (on my best days) is not afforded based on ever changing levels of performance. My kids do not have to excel in academics and/or sports to know my delight in them. Remarkably, they do not even have to be moral to be the recipients of my love. Why we take license to demand of others what God doesn’t baffles me. God wants. He hopes. But he doesn’t require our perfection to be in a relationship with Him. Why do we require it of others? Jesus is God’s way of saying he knows perfection isn’t possible so I created another way to have the relationship for which I created you. Stop striving to please me, God says. Do not stop living because you haven’t pleased me. Certainly you should not hide. Talk with me and walk with me and you will. Remember this. “I remember your transgressions no more.”

Grace liberates us. It says in spite of our ability to meets God’s standards, He loves us. He never stops pursing us in spite of our seemingly infinite capacity to run (hide). Such grace should animate us. There is no condemnation. His perfect love casts out fear. So we can live and live boldly to His honor and glory. There is no sword hanging over our head.

And if it animates us, it will be what others experience, it will define how we relate to others. Our love for others will meet them where they are. No performance. No expectation. More positively, an ability to overlook the obvious and sustained failures in someone else because we are so in tune with the obvious and sustained failures in ourselves, our complete and total insufficiency.

As Christians, saved, transformed and sustained by grace, we have nothing to offer the world except grace. God did not entice us with something other than grace. The Body of Christ cannot appeal to anything else. It is our strategy. We have no other. Good news? The world is longing for it. If a man believes in God, he is looking for a way to relate to him in spite of who is, what he has done and where he had been. The answer is Grace and grace alone. Sola gratia!

What is Community? The fellowship of those saved by Grace in Christ Jesus. It is the place of “love one another even as I have loved you.” It is a place where burdens are borne by others. It is a place where joys are celebrated by all. It is a place where grace is extended without end. Like Cheers, it is a place “where everybody knows your name.”

Community is a place that knows no anonymity and yet a place where the masses who want to be known anonymously are met right where they are. The church Jesus started knows no homogeneity. “Like attracts like” can never be its strategy. Biblical Community is diverse because people saved, transformed, and sustained by grace welcome all people. “Parthians, Medes, Elamites: residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya near from Cyrene, visitors from Rome, Cretans and Arabs” were all included at the outset. Why would any be excluded now?

Community cannot be warehoused for efficiency purposes. There can be large churches. But if they promote anonymity more than they promote deep and abiding intimate relationships, they have lost a critical element of church, so much so they may have become something other than what God intended.

Community is personal. I hurt when you hurt. I cheer when you are rejoicing.

So what is Grace Community? It is a fellowship of people animated by grace. We know grace believes in us. We believe in others. We offer the world what God offered us in Jesus. We know deeply there is no other way. The world is less without grace communities. It would be less without Grace Community.

In the next installment we will take up Grace Community’s future, investing in something that will outlast it.

Categories Latest News, Uncategorized | Tags: | Posted on July 21, 2014

Social Networks: RSS Facebook Twitter Google Stumble Upon Digg Reddit

close window

Service Times & Directions

Weekend Masses in English

Saturday Morning: 8:00 am

Saturday Vigil: 4:30 pm

Sunday: 7:30 am, 9:00 am, 10:45 am,
12:30 pm, 5:30 pm

Weekend Masses In Español

Saturday Vigil: 6:15pm

Sunday: 9:00am, 7:15pm

Weekday Morning Masses

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday & Friday: 8:30 am

6654 Main Street
Wonderland, AK 45202
(513) 555-7856