Today’s devotion builds on the thoughts from Sunday’s Sermon – Week 3 of “Compelled – Living the Value of Visible Grace” (LISTEN HERE).
Is grace at the heart of your church…your life?
Recently I was talking with a more recent attender of our church whose daughter and grand children go to our sister church and the school part of that ministry. She asked, “Is grace at the center of the Lutheran church?” Before fully answering, I asked, “Yes, but tell me why you ask that?”
She went on to explain that she has heard that word and concept more from her family who has been attending the Lutheran church near by and in our services.
Wow! What better observation to see, feel and experience than grace! Without any prompting to see this reality play out in our churches teaching and practice.
Grace was the key breaking point of Martin Luther away from the Catholic Church. Was our salvation secured by our effort or by God’s gift? The Scriptures clearly put our salvation squarely on the heart and gift of God. Period. Sola gratia (by grace alone.)
Grace is and should be at the heart of a church’s theology. Really there is no other reason to exist and there is no other doctrine or teaching that makes sense apart from understanding and making grace the center of it…as the Scripture does.
The Apostle Paul realized that his work had been all centered on performance and effort, until it wasn’t. Only when the power of the Spirt and encounter with Jesus did he realize that his salvation was not based on the zeal and effort of his works, but on the gift of God. He too made this the heart of his life’s mission:
Acts 20:24 However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God’s grace.
As one’s who have been given the gift of grace, this too is the heart of our belief, our theology. May God allow us always to treasure it…and live it!
As the conversation mentioned above continued, the comment was made, “My daughter is always talking about grace to her kids. I hear her more often say, “We have to show them some grace.” While the specific situation wasn’t shared, it was alluded that the person to whom grace had to be shared was not always “worthy” of it. How true is that?
Grace must not just be at the heart of our theology, it must be at the heart of our church visibly too! Grace always must be given, and always implies a deficit. We did not earn God’s grace, yet he gives it. As we have been given grace, we too must be ready and willing to give that grace away…in most if not all cases where the person has done nothing to deserve it (which is why it is grace!)
This week’s devotions we want to understand what “showing grace” looks like as we interact with each other. Because honestly sometimes our churches are not filled with grace. It may be talked about, but it may not always be visible. It may look like what was going on in the Galatian churches that Paul had to address:
Galatians 5:13 You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. 14 For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” 15 If you bite and devour each other, watch out or you will be destroyed by each other.
So my prayer is that as grace is at the heart of our church theologically, it will also be in the depths of our hearts personally, so that it may always flow from us visibly.
Apply: Evaluate: What is your appreciation of the grace of God? How well do you do at “showing grace” to others?
Prayer: Lord, thank you for the amazing gift of grace which you give to us freely. As we apprehend this gift by faith, we ask that the grace you have shown to us may more readily flow from us to others. AMEN.