Grace is one of those things that as a church we are supposed to do without even having to think about it. Yet, in reality, we often are very graceless towards all – including other Christians and the church in general. So why is this? In this article I will be looking at this issue as well as what grace actually is.
In his book , What’s So Amazing About Grace, Phillip Yancey dives deeply into the subject of ungrace within the world today. In one of his statements in this book, he says:
“From nursery school onward we are taught how to succeed in the world of ungrace. The early bird gets the worm. No pain, no gain. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Demand your rights. Get what you pay for. I know these rules well because I live by them. I work for what I earn; I like to win; I insist on my rights. I want people to get what they deserve – nothing more, nothing less.”
So what exactly is he saying about grace in this statement? To put it simple, he is showing us that as a secular society we often place ourselves above others, with is the exact opposite of what Jesus did for us. Instead of saying “Forget it…. These people can die for all I care”, Jesus laid down his own life and died on a cross to pay for all of our sins.
The apostle Paul says in the book of Romans:
For the wages of sin is death…(Romans 6:23a NIV)
Paul is saying that we should be the ones who died on the cross, not Jesus. What we deserve is a public, humiliating death, and nothing less. However, the verse does not end there. Instead, the verse is as follows:
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 6:23 NIV)
So as you can see, we have gained eternal life through Christ. This was an act of the grace of God. How else could a fallen people be able to have fellowship with the creator of the universe after we have done so many things which are sinful? In the book of Ephesians, we learn that this grace is not from things we can do ourselves, but it is rather from the grace that we have received from God. This grace is possible due to the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
But what does all of this have to do with our lack of grace in the modern world? Well, this is a way to set up the scene for what has been going on in the past in regards to grace. This allows us to see the dramatic change in the ways that we view grace. An example of this comes from a story that Erma Bombeck has to tell about how while she was in church a small child was quietly smiling at different people. The child’s mother took a pause from her prayers to scold the child for have the gall to smile while at church. If we can no longer find happiness in our churches, where are we going to find it? This type of thing is something that we are constantly seeing going on in churches worldwide. The church has begun to leave its values of grace behind and is now beginning to, in some locations, become more of a clique or social club, than a place where we can go to find solitude and meet with God.
The grace which we should be showing those who need it most is being pushed to the back of the table and ignored. This is just setting us up for a continuation of this cycle of ungrace which has invaded our churches. Instead of showing the love of Christ to those around us, we push them to the side and try to pretend that they do not exist. If we continue to live within this bubble, the world will not hear the message of Christ, which is something that we do not want to happen, and neither does God.
We as a church need to step up and begin to show the love of Christ to the entire world. Even if this takes on the form of just inviting someone to youth group, be sure to do so. No one ever said that you had to go out and preach a sermon each Friday night. Just being able to spend time with others often influences people more. It really does not matter if you do something like this or if you do something more complex – all that matters is that you demonstrate Christ’s love throughout your life.
The grace which we have received through Christ is something that we do not deserve and yet we have anyhow. This is something that we as mortals often find difficult to understand. However, remember that as soon as we accept Christ, we are supernaturally transformed. This transformation is an awesome experience which we can not begin to comprehend.
Just read some of the parables of Jesus and you will see this grace being demonstrated. I would also suggest that if you really want to do some serious research that you do a word study on the word grace. Find a concordance and look up the word, then read the different verses that it lists. This should give you a pretty good basis to learn more.