What does this mean? Generous Grace.
This came to mind after I read a devotional this morning with the main concept stating that to hear truth- the Word- is not enough. There is more. We have to believe it is true and let it change us- who we are at our core. This is not often done because it is usually really uncomfortable. Changing your behavior is hard- changing your motivation is harder. And God calls us to be holy because he is holy- what a command! But in this, he also provides grace.
If God provides grace for me, and I am called to be like him, I should then be offering grace to others- the way it is offered to me: generously. But I often find that I put myself in a place of judgement, puffing myself up, thinking I am in a place to offer grace- to extend it- as though it is mine to give.
It is not.It is mine to live.
The difference is that I am not sitting here hoarding all of the grace to parcel out as I see fit. I am to walk through my day in a gracious way- living, breathing, exuding grace so that others cannot help but be affected by the grace I experience and the graciousness that flows from me.
As lovely as those words sound, it is an ugly process filled with raw emotion and mishandlings that often leave more than just myself devastated. Learning grace is not a pretty process. However, the process of learning grace produces beautiful results.
To walk through life is actually easier if it’s just you. Only you know your thoughts and your heart. You can walk away or escape or explain your behaviors. It’s the living day-to-day life surrounded by others that begins to call out the hidden areas in our lives. That is why we need relationship, we need community, and I think that is why it is also avoided.
I love learning people. I love being learned. But there comes a point that each person is at a place where the vulnerability is real and there is a moment to accept that in grace or to walk away. I find myself constantly at that place, that precipice of relationship (whether that is in friendship, working, living, etc) where we can choose to go either way. It’s that uncomfortable tension between the newness and the commitment. And I have experienced a lot of walking away- both from others as well as myself. I have heard and given some really good excuses too: I have a full time job, a full time ministry, friends, a small group, etc.- I do not have time. I don’t want to be distracted from the ministry I participate in and lead- it’s too important. It’s not the right time- I’m not ready for a relationship.
Looking at the overview of Jesus’ ministry- ministry is the result of relationship- not vice versa. I have been expecting relationship to come after the ministry is built. Once everything is in place, then women will connect and there will be relationship. Once the ministry is in place, then I’ll have time to devote to a relationship. Once the ministry is going… what kind of ministry is that? One of plans and schedules bypassing the messy trenches of relationships. I think we, as the American church, have made ministry too pretty and flashy. We have made it more about attracting people than meeting people. Jesus did not run after people to try and convince them of who he is. He did not use fancy words or even a lot of words. What did he do then? With no real plan or agenda or sermon prepared?
He loved on those who others did not. He saw the good in people, even those who hated him. He touched those who longed to be felt. No rules, no programs, no schedule. Just a lot of space, time and grace.
I don’t do this. I shy away from people. I rationalize that the ministry I do within my church is good enough- messy enough.
I am living within a controllable mess. One in need of grace, but not in desperate need of generous grace. The kind of desperation for grace that knocks the breath out of you. The kind that not only steps on your toes, but crushes your selfishness. The kind that reminds you of the necessity to breath in the freshness of grace over and over and over again.