There is a space that every heart longs to linger, it is a place we were made to inhabit. It is a shelter from the cruelty of the words the world slings, and fortunately it is also a buffer from the difficult accusations that come from within the frame of the church.
I write about it most of the time.
I talk about it often.
I yearn to live it.
Friends, I wish I could penetrate with my own words the indescribable gift this really is… I wish that I could give justice to the powerful promise that the door of grace swinging wide for us provides. Maybe if we take time to look at it close, you know… location, proximity, nearness… space depleting close, would we find our own estimation of grace lacking?
My heart has been burdened as of late. Heavy wounded burdened and I can’t describe it, except that it isn’t a personal offense. I have been wrestling deep with some things that have left me unsettled. Though I am surer-than-ever about this gospel of grace that Christ preached; it is layered in all He said, I have been questioning this position of grace dwelling we choose to embrace. So often it seems we forget the power of giving grace, like it is unreachable as we live with each other. Yet, as we reach out to grasp the corner hem of His garment, like the woman with the issue of blood, there is a spilling of virtue from Him to us. Powerful truth tumbling in waves over us, changing lives with the soul giving power that flows out of Him; and it is not reserved for just some.
The more I sit in His Words, the more I recognize this reality: GRACE is preached ALL throughout scripture and it is available to all who will come boldly to His throne seeking it.
Since it is available to all who look to the Father through the Son…if that is true, then we should act like it and stop taking the role of the those who break down by becoming those who build up.
Public shame is not a trait I would liken to Christ. Slander and accusation is not a fruit of the spirit. Belittling and minimizing people’s thoughts, feelings, and ideas just because we don’t agree with them does not make us right. The accuser of the brethren is identified as the father of all lies, the one whose pride stood strong and caused the tumbling of many. Satan doesn’t have to rip apart the Church, we are doing a really good job of that all on our own.
Admittedly, I am no theologian and my understanding of His Word, His Ways, and His Will are fragmentary at best. But I do know this…There is no place in the church for believers to constantly pull apart the message of the gospel and the heart of redemption by choosing to put others on the cross. Instead of bringing grace into the situation, we are wearing the robe of justice ourselves. Romans 8:1-2 reminds us there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. It is not our job to cast stones when we ourselves need to be relieved of them.
Lately, pilgrims have been picking up rocks with the hopes of correcting others and I don’t get that kind of Christianity. When we make the choice to willfully persecute each other, we are no better than the one who is taking life in the name of religion. That is certainly not the gospel message.
When we place doctrine and theology above the message of grace, we allow our puffed up hearts to find fault in others who worship or pray differently. We have demonstrated the very nature of hypocrisy and nullified the gospel message to the many who are broken and bleeding in the world. We have become the white-washed tombs of imperfection, setting impossible standards that God has never demanded. Sometimes, sitting on the pew is lonely. I grieve at the places we have gone in order to be right… in order to elevate human wisdom above heartfelt compassion, in the name Christian virtue.
Loving God first and then loving others is the key to this grace life fully demonstrated in Christ. Choosing to see others as better than ourselves like Philippians 2:3 says is gospel-focused living. Both lead to a powerful hope forged on the tenants of love through faith which cannot be forgotten by those who are called to love by His Spirit.
Contemplating Christ is a study in living and giving grace
Charles Spurgeon said, ” Nothing will so enlarge the intellect, nothing so magnify the soul of man, as a devout earnest, continued investigation of the great subject of the Deity. And whilst humbling and expanding, this subject is eminently consolatory. Oh there is, in contemplating Christ, a balm for every wound; in musing on the Father, there is a quietus for every grief; and in the influence of the Holy Ghost, there is a balsam for every sore.”
This kind of intellectual learning is taught not in books, nor by chastisement of people, but by deep penetrating searching of Christ. As we contemplate His Ways, always much higher than our own, we are no longer free to assume the role of judge. If Christ did not come carrying a gavel, then neither should we.
1 Corinthians 13 reminds us that we can have all the spiritual accolades that elevate us to places of discernment, wisdom and wealth, yet without LOVE it is useless and of no worth.
Love…. endures, is patient, is kind, is never envious or jealous,is not boastful or vainglorious,does not vaunt itself, is not puffed up, is not conceited, is not rude,is not self-serving,is not resentful or touchy or begrudging,does not rejoice at injustice.
Pause here and chew on some grace words… LOVE is not an emotion that we feel and then emulate, it truly is a choice.
We can’t take back the words of accusation we sling away, friends.We can’t restore a person’s character when it has been infringed upon.We will be accountable for those things we say, the words that wound, friends. A difference of opinion, the division of ideology, or the rhetoric of religion is not an opportunity bludgeon believers. Isaiah 1:18 calls us to reason together not destroy one another.
Matthew 7:15-23 warns us about the wolves who come dressed as sheep. Scripture warns that the fruit of their labor will show the truth of heart. Even still, there is no call to deconstruct a person’s character in an effort to prove them wrong. Instead, it reminds us to be people who are building up grace walls bringing light where darkness shadows our paths.
Let me be clear about something. Every single thing we say, hear, or teach must line up with scripture. Absolutely! But not one single thing requires us to abdicate from the realm of Christ’s example. Friends, even while on trial, His words were grace words. His words were life words. His words were Truth. While on the Cross, His words were full of love. He said we would be known by our love for one another and for the world.
Christ compels us to be grace dwellers simply by our example and practically with our words and actions.
Therefore since we are justified through faith, let us have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through Him also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand. And let us rejoice in our sufferings, know that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance develops maturity of character. And character produces joyful confident hope of eternal salvation.
Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.
But God’s free gift is not at all to be compared to the trespass. [His grace is out of all proportion to the fall of man.] For if many died through one man’s falling away, much more profusely did God’s grace and the free gift that comes through the undeserved favor of one Man, Jesus Christ, abound and overflow to and for the benefit of many. ( Romans 5:1-4;15)
When grace is no longer determined by our definition, we may actually start to see it by His. The justification of life, the right to set sinners at liberty to pursue grace came through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. It does not give us the right to dispense at will, but to lavish in abundance, the eternal hope that took the sting of the law’s offense away.
So I wonder, if instead of the justification we seek, the temporal earthly satisfaction we get out of being right, ( Hello, self-righteousness, pride, and all sorts of ‘isms’), what if we choose first to seek first the Kingdom of God and HIS righteousness? Would it move us to love deep and linger long over conversations sparked by a genuine love of God? Would it bring us to our knees to pray? Would it allow us to look first for the heart of the redeemed and then grab hands together to reason well because we both love Christ?
With lives being lost all over the world for religion or lack thereof, I am grieved deep that believers find the necessity to don gloves of destruction and topple one another rather than cloaking ourselves in the garment of grace that leads us all to seek truth, repent of unbelief, and receive the reconciliation that grace offers.
grace builds hope.
grace restores people to God.
Since the definition of grace is a term only He has the authority to establish, we can’t decide who can claim it. Although we are not the originators of its extension, by implication and adoption we become those who can gift it as freely as it was given to us.
Rather than cast judgment, can I challenge you to bend the knee and pray long?
What if we sought the gospel hope of salvation together rather than chose to divide hearts over doctrine and repel the seeker by the lack of love we show?
I am not asking you to deny the doctrine of salvation, friends, I am challenging you to embrace the power of grace. I dare you to be a grace giver.
Linking up with friends for the journey:
#TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Three Word Wednesday, Thought Provoking Thursday,Everyday Jesus, Missional Women, Grace and Truth Link up, Faith n Friends Blog Hop,Still Saturday, Weekend Whispers, Give Me Grace, EssentialThingsDevotions, Fellowship Friday