Thoughts on Grace

Yesterday at City Church we completed a 13-week series on God's grace entitled Charis (the Greek word for grace).  It is a series I have been putting together and processing for a few years now.  Perhaps no set of sermons has ever been more personal to me.  Here are a few of my takeaways.

- Grace is more than tolerance or leniency.  It is even more than the unmerited favor of God.  Those definitions dilute the fierce and aggressive nature of grace ... which not only welcomes rebels but relentlessly pursues them. 

- If grace does not offend your human sense of justice or fairness at some point, you probably do not grasp a) the magnitude of your own sin and/or b) the scandalous nature of His grace.

- Grace is more than a doctrine.  Grace is found most clearly embedded in stories.  The Bible from cover to cover is filled with the narrative of broken people who stand in need of radical grace and the God who pursues them. Do not try and restrict it to a theological concept that you can parse.

- The redemptive stories of the Bible are R-rated.  We attenuate the scandalous nature of grace when we try and omit or clean them up and make them only appropriate for our children's Bible storybooks.

- You can't make God love you.  Stop trying.  Grace declares that God loves me no matter what I do or do not do.  Do we really think keeping up with a Bible reading plan or remembering to pray before I go to sleep somehow earns the favor of a God who pursues His enemies?

- God redeems rebels because of who He is not because of who we are.

- Obedience flows out of grace. Salvation and Christian living both originate from grace.  God doesn't save us and then hand us the keys to take over. The gospel of grace is needed for salvation and sanctification. 

- The bloodline of Jesus Himself is filled with the stories of people we would want to rewrite or edit out of our history.  The Bible writers go out of their way to include these stories so that we might remember that Jesus came to save the type of people found in his own history - broken, messed up sinners ... like us.

- When we begin to understand our vast need for grace, we begin to live a life defined by grace.  Grace becomes a way of life only when we understand how desperately we need it and how much of it we have been provided and offered in Jesus.

- Grace redeems us both from our filthy unrighteousness and our feeble attempts at self-righteousness.  Grace is bigger than your deepest, darkest sin and your failed attempts at behavior modification.

- Grace should make us uncomfortable.  Live with the tension.  Don't try and add to it or subtract from it in order to make it more palatable.

These are just a few of my lingering thoughts from the series. The longer I am on this journey the more God is teaching me about my desperate need for His grace.

All of the Charis messages can be watched on our website or listened to from our podcast.

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