Sunday, January 24, 2010

what happened to grace?

grace |grās| noun
1 the free and unmerited favor of a superior.
2 simple elegance or refinement of movement.
• an attractively polite manner of behaving.

this word has been swirling around in my head for 2 months. exactly 2. i have had countless conversations about it. i have lay awake at night thinking about it. i have word vomited my thoughts on it to countless people. it's been churning inside me in a very deep place.

the Church has lost grace. bold statement? perhaps. too bold? not in my opinion. the Church is really good at blame, judgment and condemnation. Grace? not always. Sometimes? yeah for sure... but in general, the way i see it; grace is missing in the Church.

don't get me wrong. we (the Chruch) LOVE receiving grace. we love the grace of God. we love that he reaches down from Heaven and extends his FAVOR to us. Not because of anything we have or have not done. (Romans 3:24) However in my recent observation of grace we don't have a very accurate picture of grace.... We go to church and ask for a touch of grace. We seek a moment of grace. We see grace as the band-aid to our sin. Grace is so much more than a band-aid or warm fuzzy we feel in worship. UNMERITED FAVOR! It has nothing to do with us. nothing. i can't sing loud enough, pray hard enough, cry big enough tears. i can't do anything. it just is. grace. it reaches for us and all we have to do is believe that it's there, receive it and start to live righteous lives because of it. i don't have to have my crap together to receive it. if i thought i did or tried to, i wouldn't be receiving grace, i'd be trying to get my gold stars for doing my chores.

so what happened to it? if we understand those statements about grace, does it stop there? is grace solely unmerited favor from God? can grace move through us? can it go beyond us?

sometimes i think it gets stuck at the altar. and sadly, i think we are often ok with that.

i see people who have loved God. known God. walked with God. soaked in his presence. seen his healing. prayed the prayers. waved the banners. served the poor. gone to Africa. done the stuff. hit the mark. walked in calling and purpose.



even these people stumble and fall. they miss the mark. the drink more and worship less. they party more and listen less. they booty-dance it up. they wave different banners.

what happened to grace for these ones? yeah. these ones. the ones who loved, served, prayed, cried, worshiped, went. then, for whatever reason, they drank, partied, danced, messed up. what happened to grace for them?

sometimes stuff happens. and we get distracted from the call of God. we get messed up. we miss the mark. does grace extend to us then? does grace extend even to those places?

biblicaly? heck yes.

Churchly? not so much.

churchly is for sure not a word, but hang in there. we (the Church) love the lost. (at least we claim to). we love to see people "miraculously" saved. We love to see people do a 180 from growing up in a cult to leading worship on our mission trips. We love to see the tattooed ex-drug crazies passionately pursuing Jesus. We love to see the savage in the jungle hear the truth for the first time. we love the salvation stories of those who never knew a loving God. We even make videos to tell their stories at big events. transformation. the word alone gets us all in a happy dance.

is this grace? yes.

We(the church) are real bad at it when it comes to those who have once had the "it" of God on their life and for whatever reason have lost it. We don't extend grace to them. We leave them in their crap and judge them harshly when they come to back looking for hope.

the part 2 of the definition gets me.

2 simple elegance or refinement of movement. •an attractively polite manner of behaving.

if this is grace we need more of it in the way we act towards those who are lost. those have been here and are out "there". i am sick of the dirty looks, sassy faces and "witty" comments. i am over the fake pity extended to those who have known God and for some reason have missed it for a time. i am ready for real grace to be found by the church again. undeserved, unmerited favor.

i won't go on about the word favor, but ponder for a minute what that one looks like.

as for me...

i am going to stop trying to do my chores and get my stars.
i am going to live in the grace that has been extended towards me.
i am going to press on towards righteous living.
i am going to extend grace to the lost.
i am going to extend grace to the ones who have lost what they once had.
i am going to try and move and act with a refinement of movement.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

5 years ago today...

i took this picture:
i can hardly believe it's been 5 years. for some reason this was one of my favorite schools we visited in The Gambia, West Africa. Perhaps its because this picture is from it, or perhaps it's because i remember the little kiddos prayers.... i'm not sure exactly, but i do know that my hearts is aching to go back to Africa. especially today for some reason.