Ok, so I know my last post came with a cliff hanger…
“Stay tuned for part two…”
Well life happened… actually more accurately, “Jake,” happened. If you don’t know me I am an incredibly passionate guy, often given to moments of emotion. I am currently having one of those nights. Emotional I mean. It is Tuesday and it has already been a long week. Emotionally. Maybe it’s just my life right now, maybe it’s God attempting to shape something unique in me, I don’t know, but I am feeling like an emotional roller coster right now. So even as I am writing, forgive me for being scattered, for being potentially incoherent at times. Hopefully this post will be more Holy Spirt than Jake… we’ll see.
I am in the midst of a sermon series called, “the power of a values driven life.” We, at Finding Life Church are taking our annual trip through our core values. Its a yearly opportunity to re-focus on why we exist as a church, and what God is calling us to live out… collectively, every day, from a position of the heart.
This week we come to graciousness. I think I make this statement all 7 weeks every time I preach through these values…
“This is my favorite one!”
Stupid, I know, but remember when I said I was emotional? Yeah, this is just another manifestation of that, and the fact that I am head over heals in love with these 7 core values. Want to bring meaning to your life? Want to have close powerful relationships? Want to live a peaceful, joy-filled, powerful life? Want to live a life reflecting the heart of Jesus? Pursue a heart posture that is in pursuit of these 7 values, and you will. I promise. Ok, there I go rabbit trailing again.
Grace is the central, driving and defining concept to the Christian life.
“Christian,” what the heck does that really mean? Seriously? Church attendance? Bible memorizing? false comfort stemming from a common system of beliefs that we gather to affirm for each other with our religious ritual and boring, lifeless and repetitive gathering? Teva Sandals and North Face back packs? Seriously, what are we really doing here?
One word…. Graciousness
It means living like Jesus, and the pursuit of this value, graciousness toward others, that stems from an understanding of my deep brokenness and desperation is what it really means to be a Christian.
To live like Christ is to embody what He came to live and die for.
Tonight, as I sit here, praying, singing, reflecting and writing, I am consumed by one thought. To call myself a Christian, and not be on an all out pursuit of a lifestyle that seeks to love, unconditionally all people, from my best friend to the most unlovely of human beings, is to embody the term, Hypocrite, thereby making me the antonym of the word Christian.
The irony of that is, the word Christian more often than not embodies something completely different. To the world that the grace of Jesus came to ransom, the word Christian most often goes down harsh, painful and anything but smooth. I know, this conversation is getting old… I am just another one of these post-modern lunatics that is far to passionate, and equally uneducated.
Well, call me what you wish… I am right.
Being a Christian means embracing a very simple, yet equally counter culture concept… grace. And not the over-used word put in every single worship song ever written because it rhymes with the word “embrace,” which is also another word us Christians like to put in songs… real grace.
Grace flies in the face of everything we want, love and feel comforted by. Justice? Grace takes a big fat dump on yours and my understanding of justice. Its true.
Grace requires violation: It needs it, it cannot exist without it. There is no such thing as showing graciousness to someone who is nice, kind, or compliant. In order to live the most important value reflected in the life of Christ, we must first be violated. You are not living like Jesus until you have been utterly violated and then chose to love anyway. As people, especially Christians, we run away from violation don’t we? This is not about being a door mat, but about expecting to be violated, choosing it, and then choosing love. It comes from a position of strength, not weakness. It is what Jesus Lived out with every breathe he took on this planet.
Grace is not a response to a request, in fact, if someone asks for it, it is not really grace. Grace in its purest form is given regardless of the actions of another person. Once the violator recognizes the violation, grace is out. You can forgive, be merciful, loving, etc, but true grace… is no longer available to give. This is what makes it so hard. Graciousness is a posture of the heart that responds immediately with love when violation occurs.
Grace does not take actions into account. Graciousness looks past the actions, and loves simply because a gracious heart believes with the very fabric of their being that it is the only option. As I have received grace, I give it away. I cannot claim Grace from Him, and not respond that way when others actions deserve something else.
Grace is not fair. Oooh, fairness. man, that word is a tough one huh? In my family we call that the “F” word. The “F” word is the enemy of grace. If it doesn’t hurt, it is not grace. If it is easy to give, you haven’t given grace. Grace doesn’t seek fairness, it simply chooses to love. True grace doesn’t weigh the situation to see if it is, “fair.”
We have a fairness complex in America don’t we? As long as you are looking for, “Your slice,” what you are owed, or what you deserve, you will never, ever understand what it means to live the grace that you and I as “Christians,” place our hope in.
Grace is thoroughly life altering. True grace is.. the kind Jesus gave to you, and to me as He hung on the cross. The kind that traded Kingly position for slavery, majesty for mire. The kind of love Christ showed to each one of us is the kind He is calling us to turn around and give away.
If you and I, do not immediately choose to start posturing our hearts and lives in pursuit of living out the grace we claim, we cannot continue to call ourselves Christians. We can’t, period. We also cannot continue to place our hope in the concept of salvation that’s footing and foundation is firmly based in the scandalous grace we are claiming yet withholding with those around us. When we do, we become a hindrance to the gospel. We become a fog that clouds the image of Christ, the purity of His love and the power of His bloodshed for those far from Him.
Wanna call yourself a Christian? Start living graciously… or stop calling yourself that. Period.
It’s grace, or its nothing.
At Finding Life Church we are choosing to forgo fairness and justice. Instead we embrace violation understanding that only in the face of violation are we given the opportunity to truly love like Jesus. To embody the true meaning of the word Christian. We are not perfect, but we are on that pursuit.
Lord form it in us! as only you can…