Grace, Grace, Grace
Christianity when distilled down to its bare essentials means this: Love. 1 Corinthians 13 states, “Love is patient. Love is kind, and is not jealous, love does not brag and is not arrogant. does not act unbecomingly. Is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered. Does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth. Bears all things. Believes all things. Hopes all things. Endures all thing. Love never fails……”. If this is not evident or growing, then Paul warns that we have become useless.
Being honest with you, I’ve been the giver, receiver, withholder, and semi-miser of this most important of character traits. Come to think of it, 99.9 to 100 percent of the body of Christ has the same form of spiritual schizophrenia, so I don’t feel that bad. I really don't. It’s a process. It takes time to develop. It’s a maturation process, but it is the mark of true maturity.
You would think that a deep understanding of God’s forgiveness would result in a deep love for others. However, somewhere along the line, some lose their vision, their way, they get lost in the fog of fear, insecurity, or selfishness. They get comfortable. They get complacent. I know I do.
Reading Brennan Manning’s Ragamuffin Gospel has further deepened my understanding of God’s grace. It’s a refreshing book. For those of you who haven’t read any of his stuff, I encourage you to pick up a copy of his writings and be blessed. He was a former Franciscan Priest, a former alcoholic, and now a Christian writer and speaker on the topic of God’s grace. He experienced a deep level of God’s grace and now he shares it with all. It’s powerful stuff.
You could call his book extreme, but isn’t God’s grace extreme? That’s why I like it. It rings true. It’s a clarion call to the church to not forget why it exists. It’s a conduit of His amazing grace.
Every church needs to grow in love. Some are
and condone sin; some are overly punitive and judge every little
some are selective in their love; some are just focused on teaching
about love without any practical outlet into the community; some are so
caught up with filling their seats
that people are looked upon as dollar signs. Many churches have lost
Many are still on course and growing. Lamp stands are being removed and
replugged in other places (Rev 2:5). God is doing it at this time. The
bride is being made ready.
Is this an indictment against the church in the world, in Hawaii, or my church? No. It’s really not. Growth in this area is a process. God is transforming His bride into something spectacular. I see glimpses of it. It’s awesome. This article is just a reminder to keep things basic. I like simple. I like to ask myself one basic question in order to assess the depth of my spiritually. I ask God, “How am I doing when it comes to loving you and loving people?” It’s a good plumbline. I make the necessary adjustments as the Holy Spirit guides. It keeps me in a place of fear and love, awe and grace, respect and mercy. It's all good.
I know I have a ways to go when it comes to really loving people with the unconditional love of God. But I like Thomas Merton’s quote regarding Christians. He stated, “A saint is not someone who is good but who experiences the goodness of God.” We love because he first loved us. As we enjoy the goodness and love of God, we will flow with love towards one another. It’s pretty simple. I like simple. I know you do too. Rest in His grace.
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