The more I dwell on the amazing grace of God, the more I realize how deeply I need to grow and be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:1; 2 Pet. 3:16). I have been dwelling on it quite a bit lately as I have been preaching a mini-series on how the grace of God sets people free to experience generosity toward others, genuine love in community and now this week empowerment for life of mission.
As I wrapped up my message, I tried to give some specific examples and points of application as to how grace builds and defines Christian community (as opposed to moral community that is often Christless). Here’s some that came to mind based on my meditation last week on Luke 7:36-50.
A grace-saturated community will …
* have a warm disposition to the very worst of sinners (while moral community can often be cold and careful to avoid people with big “messes”).
* show no pressure to perform or pretend; you are set free from lying about yourself (while moral community often centers on religious performance and convincing one another we are better than we really are).
* be comprised of needy people equipped to meet needy people by both word and deed, sharing the Gospel as personal witness and showing the implications of the Gospel in compassionate service (while moral community seldom acknowledges needs and is uncomfortable with talking publicly about areas of brokenness, failure, struggle or loss).
* never be intimidated or turned off by the messiness of sinners, neither discouraged or deterred from meaningful engagement in the lives of people not like us (while moral community often consists of people like us, or people who present themselves in moral refinement and religious accomplishment).
* center the conversations on Christ and making much of His life, death and resurrection and how our identity is firmly and fully secured in Him (while moral community will make conversations much about oneself and how their identity is wrapped up in what they do, who they are not and why others ought to esteem them).
* demonstrate selfless love toward others, not because they are lovely but rather because we cannot get over the fact that we have been loved by God (while moral community loves others by what they can offer us and whether they qualify as recipients or objects of our love based on our standards).
* seek the welfare and interests of others as more important than our own, because Jesus taught us it is better to give than to receive (while moral community gives for recognition and receives for recompense, turning the interests of others, whether in giving or receiving, as means of self-promotion).
* carry a disposition of being sober in our judgment regarding ourselves and generous in our mercy toward others (while moral community is generous in judgment of others and undiscerning in mercy towards oneself).
* anticipate opportunities to sincerely express acceptance and forgiveness for times when they will be wronged by others (while moral communities fail to adequately address the issues for fear of conflict and what others might think of them).
* create a culture where repentance is celebrated and faith is nurtured in everyday conversations (while moral community will nurture faith in one’s good works and celebrate self-help as moral accomplishment).
Those are 10 that I came up with, but there are many more I’m sure. If you have any that you could add to this list, feel free to chime in on the comments. There’s nothing I want more in my church family than to see a community truly saturated by the grace of God!