On Sunday we are looking at another value we have here at church. We are looking at how we hold to unity in diversity. And at first glance that statement looks well…innocuous. Like who cares?
But I would say this: that value is one of the most counter-cultural values today.
That value is one of the most needed values today.
That value is one that is most missing in our current Evangelical Christian sub-culture. We are quick to divide. Quick to call out people. We are quick to call our “heresy”
But in the process we have made an idol out of our own theological perfection. In doing this we have not only moved into dangerous territory, but unbiblical territory. And yes, I see the irony of saying “heresy hunters” are heretical…but my point is actually larger than calling out “heresy hunters”.
My point is that in Evangelical and Western Christianity we have forgotten how to hold onto unity in the midst of difference. We haven’t practiced well what the Bible calls us to be: one in love.
So on Sunday we are going to unpack this value, and most importantly, unpack how to practice it.
On Sunday we opened up a brand new series exploring the different aspects of who we really are. We looked at the ways in which God has designed our church, and some of our “DNA”. I believe that God creates not only unique people, but unique churches with something unique to offer.
So over the next few weeks we want to explore and reveal some of what makes this church, “us”. And we began by exploring grace.
We looked at a really important parable in Matthew 18. Here Peter essentially asks Jesus how many times we should forgive one another. Peter is asking this question in response to realizing that communities aren’t perfect. No church or group is perfect, we all let one another down and sometimes even hurt one another. Peter asks how are we to deal with that? What are the boundaries on forgiveness? How far does grace extend?
And Jesus tells a story of a man who was given an extreme amount of grace as his debt was removed, but then squeeze out this tiny debt from another fellow servant. In essence the story is one we know well: someone abuses grace. The man though who abused the grace given is eventually thrown into prison and suffers for the rest of his life.
And Jesus ends with this deeply challenging saying, “That’s what my heavenly Father will do to you if you refuse to forgive your brothers and sisters from your heart.”
And what we unpacked on Sunday was how, if you refuse to give grace, you can’t be saved by grace. That if you reject the grace that is given, by refusing to give it to others, you can’t be captured by it.
Terrence Malik, in his beautiful film The Tree of Life, puts it this way, “The nuns taught us there are two ways through life … the way of Nature… and the way of Grace. You have to choose which one you’ll follow.” And that’s true.
But the reason I love our church so much is that it has chosen the way of grace. Grace is given first. And this is harder than justice or law first, but it’s the only way to truly live. Because Jesus always gives us grace first, he died while we were sinners and didn’t deserve what he gave us.
The point is that for me, I believe a huge value of our church is showing grace first. And that we can’t drift from this. And while it may sound tempting and biblical to stand up for TRUTH, for righteousness, for the law, and for justice (which usually means punishing someone) – it isn’t right. Jesus gives grace first. Grace is what everything proceeds from, and we need to follow that lead. Which is why I love the church.
The truth is the past few years at this church have been very good, but this isn’t because I’m good, it’s because the church is gracious. I shared stories of how the church has given me grace over the years, and why that changed me, and changes lives. And I ended with this main point: Keep choosing grace. Because grace is like a muscle, the more you use it the easier it is to give it. The less you give it, the harder and less likely you will be to give it.
So we ended with a simple challenge: to show someone grace today. To not wait but to show someone grace in an everyday way. To let something go, to give something undeserved, to actually take a step. Because the truth is grace changes lives, and it’s the reason I love this church, and I believe it’s our calling to not just believe but live out.
Big Idea: Keep choosing grace.
If we don’t know who we are we can drift from whom God has made us
Our DNA: Grace, Transformation, Harmony
Grace matters most to me, because I think it matters most to God
There is no perfect community, because all community involves broken people
The really contentious point of grace isn’t receiving it, but giving it
If we reject grace, we can’t be saved by grace.
Grace is the thing that makes relationships work.
When relationships lose grace they become built on law and legalism but that’s not a relationship. That’s a contract
Jesus is a grace-first God.
Grace needs to be a habit, not just a belief
When you stop practicing grace you start to drift from it
Adult Discussion Questions:
What stuck out to you from the sermon? What was challenging to you? What was new? What would you say are some of our core values? How has someone in this church showed you grace? Why do you think grace is so transformational? Why do you think grace is so hard to show? Who might you be called to show grace to today?
On Sunday we are starting a brand new series here called: Our DNA: Three Strands ~ Grace, Transformation, and Harmony. We are going to be exploring some of what makes us – “us”. We want to be looking inward and to really examine some of our core values.
Because the truth is if you don’t know what you value, you can drift or lose them.
Holding onto who we are isn’t just important, it’s imperative, because just like how you were designed – I believe God has designed our church in a certain way. We all are unique with unique gifts to the world. And I believe the same is true of our church.
So that’s what we are starting on Sunday looking at the first of our values: grace. It might not be a surprise but it certainly does matter. Hope you can join us.