GRACE: a way of life

We are in a benchmark series at City Church called CORE.  In this series we are unpacking what it means to fulfill the mission to which we believe we have been called: to continue what Jesus began. We have refined our mission with 4 Core Values that serve as our guardrails to make sure we remain focused on our task.  Two of those values focus on what we believe: 1) The Church belongs to Jesus & 2) Grace is a way of life.  The other two deal with what we practice: 3) We live intentionally in community & 4) We are in the city for the city.  This Sunday I will be preaching part 2 of our second core value ~ Grace is a way of life. 

Living a life of grace begins with believing and accepting the gospel of grace.  We learn grace by being graced. As we grasp the gospel (what has been done for us in Jesus & who we are in Jesus), grace becomes a way of life. We tend to live out what we have received - what has changed our lives.

I believe most of our struggles as individual and corporate followers of Jesus often comes down to two primary issues: 1) a failure to grasp, embrace, and live out God's unconditional grace, love, and forgiveness in our lives & subsequently 2) a failure to give out God's unconditional grace, love and forgiveness.

We fail to live lives marked by unconditional grace because we fail to recognize our desperate need for grace in our own lives or we fail to recognize God's full acceptance of us in Jesus.  Religion tends to take a ladder-like approach to spirituality - the more you do or don't do (as defined by your sect), the more spiritual and God-approved you are. I grew up in an environment where spirituality was often defined by conformity.  Consequently my deepest struggles as a Jesus follower often have to do with resting in who I am in Jesus and not trusting in what I have or have not done to make me acceptable to God.

I talk a lot about grace. I even planted a church in Sin City named Grace Point - where we emphasized grace is the point but I am not sure I fully began to grasp grace until I was absolutely dependent upon it.  My understanding of grace runs deeper than ever because life has taught me how desperately I need Someone who loves unconditionally.

Grace is more than a doctrine. It can't be contained within our theological systems. Grace goes places where we are uncomfortable. It is messy and complicated. It chooses the wrong people. Grace is divinely vulgar and uncomfortably promiscuous.  Grace will not be controlled by our sense of fairness. It defies logic and has zero to do earning, merit, or being deserved. Grace doesn't demand. It simply gives.

The gospel of grace liberates us from the ladder-like approach to spirituality. It sets us free from the burden of trying to earn God's approval, the demand to measure up, and the pressure to get it right. Grace releases us from the tireless effort to do or be enough and from the need to be right, rewarded, regarded, and respected. 

*By the way, this truth applies to "church life" as well.  Grace liberates the local church from the next level consumeristic approach that drives many churches and pastors today - more people, more campuses, more buildings, more numbers, more impact, and on and on and on.  I have lived that life and it is exhausting!  

Grace just happens.  And when we get grace ... when we really get it ... when it moves beyond a catchword ... when it moves beyond mere doctrine and becomes a way of life ... when that happens, then grace changes everything.

Grace is often most clearly visible in stories because grace happens in real life. It happens in the messiness.  And that is why I get grace deeper now than earlier in my life.  I get it more now because grace came to me in the messiness of my own making and it redeemed, restored, and healed me.  Grace came to me when I was broken, when I was unworthy of it. Grace came to me when I needed it the most but deserved it the least.

As I lead this ragtag group of Jesus followers called City Church, we realize more than ever that we can't make the church cool enough to draw sinners to Jesus. Here is what we can do: proclaim and demonstrate the gospel of grace.  We give grace because we have been given grace.  And that simple truth will change your life. I know it has changed mine.

Grace is a way of life.


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Or watch the messages in our Core series here.  

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