Why I Love the Church – Grace

September 5, 2013


So what is the easiest thing to do in the entire world?  In my opinion, it is to slam the church.

It doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to see that the church is __________ (fill in the blank).  Finding fault with the Christian community is such a no brainer.  Our flaws are on display at all times for all to see. 

But calling Christians out on this…well, that is so…first century.  The church has always had critics and, more significantly, the issues that fuel their criticism. That is immediately apparent from even a cursory reading of the New Testament.  

Let’s see, there is lying, cheating, immorality, false teaching, conflict among Christians, conflict among Christian leaders, conflict among families, cliques, factions and more.

But what does anybody expect?  Every Christian, whether in the first or twenty first century, is infected with human nature.  This fact guarantees that Christians and Christian communities will have issues.  The shocking thing is not that the church is made up of fallen, broken, imperfect people.  The shocking thing is that anyone is shocked by that.

When Jesus was asked why he ate with tax collectors and sinners, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Matthew 9:12-13 (ESV).

Yes, Jesus calls sin sick people to himself and into his church. 

But wait.  There’s more. 

Jesus is also the medicine that heals our sin sick souls.  Through the sacrificial, atoning work of Jesus on the cross, sinners become righteous in the sight of God. 

Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous.  Romans 5:18-19 (ESV)

There is a word for this.  The word is grace.  “For by grace you have been saved…” Ephesians 2:8 (ESV).

What is grace?  It is treating people better than they deserve.  In Jesus, God has certainly done that. 

In his book, Grace in Practice, Paul Zahl says grace is one way love. As such, it reflects the heart of the giver.  Thus, it cannot be deserved or earned.  Grace can only be given. 

It follows, then, that as people made in the image of God, as people who have received God’s great gift of grace, we should share this gift.  Freely, we have received grace.   Freely, we are to extend grace.  One way love is to be the way of the Christian.

Sadly, I concede that Christians are not always people of grace.  There’s that pesky human nature thing again.  It just doesn’t go away.  Hence, sometimes (maybe often), we miss the mark when it comes to grace. 

Our failures notwithstanding, grace lies at the heart of the Christian faith.  I can think of no other place like that. Grace is not a part of capitalism, grace is not a part of sports, grace is not part of education, grace is not a part of government.

Grace.  It is central to the faith and life of the Christian community.  I love that.

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