Why grace as default?
There can be no question that Western culture stands on the precipice of an anti-Christian era. Many people, particularly in academia, have already dismissed Christianity as a nonsense philosophy that is dangerous to democracy. Incorrect assumptions abound, particularly regarding Jesus and the gospel. The assumptions are sometimes based in how people in the Church act toward each other. If the gospel is truly the foundation upon which we as believers build our lives, we must live according to the will of God, rather than the dictates of popular preachers, influencers, and policy. In short, we must treat each other the way Jesus taught us.
Grace begins with understanding the great love of God for us. Without that love, nothing we do matters. We must know it, understand is, receive it, and practice it. Jesus was clear, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:34-35, ESV).
If we begin with love, we are able to see each other. Really see. We see the stories that make up the human condition and we are compelled to share burdens, rejoice together, grieve together, and come alongside each other (John 13:14; John 15: 17; Romans 12:10, 16; Romans 15: 5; 1 Corinthians 12:25-26; 2 Corinthians 13:11; Galatians 5:13; Galatians 6:2; Ephesians 4:2; 1 Thessalonians 3:12; Hebrews 10:24; 1 Peter 1:22; 1 John 4:7-11).
The goal of this blog and anything that may come from it, is to remind the church that we must love one another. Loving one another no matter what will continue to become more and more challenging as the culture wars progress, but love is the greatest commandment (Matthew 22:36-40), and if we are in fellowship with the Father, if we are walking in the light of Jesus, then our fellowship with each other will stand as testimony to the power of the gospel.
Too often, however, we are quick to judge each other based on our own biases, fears, insecurities, and misapplications of scripture. There is a blemish on the church in how its members treat those whose loved ones follow the world instead of the Lord. Those who leave choose many paths: agnosticism, atheism, sexual impurity, , secularism, humanism, activism, and other forms of goodness according to the standards of Western culture. Other family members do not choose to leave the faith, but suffer debilitating mental illnesses, including depression, addiction, self-harm eating disorders, and suicide. Often the parents of these sufferers are judged because they are perceived in playing a part in how mental illness develops. Science has demonstrated over and over that much mental illness is genetic or idiopathic, not environmental, but for some reason, the church writ large has not taken up the challenge of supporting the mentally ill or their families.
The purpose of my work here is to explore the nature of grace and its importance to the Church. I may, along the way, share the stories of believing parents (and siblings) who have been largely overlooked, misunderstood, or judged by fellow Christians. I will share what I learn as I study what God’s Word has to say about grace and its role in our daily interactions with our brothers and sisters in Christ. I hope to bring to light specific scriptures to guide Christians in how to be the loving and grace-filled people Jesus calls us to be. When we choose grace over judgement or ambivalence, we begin to reflect the love of Christ as we live out the will of the Father.
If grace does not make us differ from other men, it is not the grace which God gives His elect.C.H. Spurgeon
But as you excel in everything–in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in our love for you–see that you excel in this act of grace also.2 Corinthians 8:7
Nothing whatever pertaining to godliness and real holiness can be accomplished without grace.Augustine