I am a 22 year old male. I am 100% sold out for God and love Jesus. This blog shares some of my life stories, readings and my struggles with the world I am in and my faith in that world.
Thursday, February 26, 2009
During my time in the states I grappled with grace and its impact on my faith. What grace actually means and how we disrepute it. When I first became a Christian grace was free and ever flowing, but now I have been a Christian for a while, more is expected of me and grace doesn’t flow with the same freeness that it once did. What has the church done to grace? We as a culture seem to have stolen grace; we as a church seem to have set the limits on grace. Volf in his book Free of Charge speaks of gracelessness in our culture. Not an obvious decline in grace but a deeper searching problem. He argues that everything in our society today is brought and not sold and the person who volunteers and offers up their time is considered a sucker. In the US I got into a conversation with a homeless family at the shelter and they were amazed by the fact I had given a year of my life to work for nothing. And I tried to explain to him that I had been given grace for nothing. He responded with nothing in this life is free. This is culture of gracelessness that Volf is speaking of.
We seem to have set the boundaries and forgotten that it is by grace we are saved not by the works of our hands as it says in Ephesians “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) The western church seems to give a message out that says some are ok but others will never receive the freely flowing grace. I overheard a conversation in a coffee shop one day between a mother and child. The child was being disrespectful to his mother and his mother said to him, “God only loves good children.” I am sure many people have stories just like this. However on further reflection I began to think that this is what the church has become and is teaching that we are only allowed to the cross if we are straightened out and with no blemishes. As I sat one night in youth group and as I began to look around the youth group and talk to the kids, my eyes were opened to what God was teaching me. When I was a teenager and attended my youth group I use to be a rebel and really didn’t fit it with the perfect church kids. However, as I became a youth leader I realized that I was the one who needed to know the grace of Jesus. That night we had out of 8 kids, 6 of then who were in some way in trouble with the law that week whether through their own actions or the actions of the family. I began to wonder if most churches would accept and love these kids and show them grace.
Brennan Manning in his book the Ragamuffin Gospel speaks of this issue of grace, he says “The Christian community resembles a Wall Street exchange of works wherein the elite are honored and the ordinary ignored.” Does our church resemble what God calls us to be, a hospital for sinners not a museum for the saints, as some feel it has become. How can we as a church do what Jesus did and invite the tax collectors, prostitutes and criminals and ask them to come into our church building and enjoy the free flowing grace. We as a church barter with ourselves about whose sin is worse and make love itself shackling and ridged, not something that embraces us but something we have to embrace.