Church Profile – Pt. 4

In examining Acts 4:23-37, we have seen the early Church as one of Passionate Prayer, Charitable Community and Powerful Proclamation.  Today I want to focus on the last element of the church profile found in that passage, GREAT GRACE.

soldier_compassion“… and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33.

We have talked about grace before.  It is the positive side of mercy.  Mercy is not receiving what we deserve.  Grace is receiving what we do not deserve.  God has not only shown us mercy by not raining down His wrath upon our heads as we deserve, but He has shown us grace in showering upon us His steadfast love and tender compassion which we could never deserve.

Now here is the thing.  If we have been recipients of God’s grace, should we not be the most gracious people on the face of the earth?

So many times, Christians (especially evangelical Christians) face the stigma of being opposed to other people or groups of people.  We’re seen as opposing homosexuals, or alcoholics, or drug abusers, or women who have had abortions, or young people who are living together outside of marriage.  Do you know why I think we face this stigma?  I think it is at least partly because it is true, we have at times been willing to cast stones. 

Somehow, we have not made clear that we are opposed to sin because we know that it alienates us from God and destroys lives, but we are not opposed to sinners, because that’s all we are ourselves.  We oppose homosexuality because God has said that it is an offense to Him, but we are not opposed to those who are entrapped in this sin.  To the contrary, we want them to know the joy and peace of a right relationship with God through Jesus.  We oppose abortion because it ends the life of a child made in the image of the living God, but we do not oppose those who have made this awful choice.  To the contrary, our hearts break for them and we want to reach out to them in the love and compassion of Christ.

What is needed to overcome this stigma?  A healthy dose of grace.  We must remember that we are sinners who have been saved by grace, and live that out by extending grace to others.  Instead of being harsh, and judgmental and condemning, we must do to others what God has done for us, shower upon others the steadfast love and tender compassion which they desperately crave with no thought of what they justly deserve.

Father, You are rich in mercy and abundant in grace.  Help me to reflect Your character in my relationships to others.

gkr1996 posted at 2009-10-10 Category: Theological