Not to be rude, but the Apostle Peter* and I are pretty similar: It takes both of us the longest time to finally 'get it.'
*For those of you who either don't know or who have forgotten who the Apostle Peter is, this quote is his crowning achievement: Peter said to him, "Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah." (He did not know what he was saying.)
What I have taken so long to understand is how people in the church ought to get along and care for one another.
A friend was sharing with me her observations concerning how open and 'authentic' people are at one church versus people at another church. Church A has people who give no second thought to sharing their struggles, failings, or prayer needs in a given conversation. Church B seems to be a dry campus where everything and everyone is Fine. How was your week? 'Fine.' How is your family? 'Fine.' How is your uncle--the one with liver cancer? 'Fine.'
Not only does this 'Fine'-ing make for painful conversation, it fosters a social and spiritual stagnation that has no place among God's people. Sure, open insurrection and strife in a church body is bad, but what about a bunch of mutes milling around, trying to keep the cards in their hand from showing. Who knows if anyone has a quasi-spiritual thought buzzing around in their head after 45 minutes of singing and reading the Word and having it explained to them? What if someone is strongly considering leaving the faith? Is anyone sick? Any marriages on the rocks? No one knows.
Grace. It is God's God-given remedy. It is God's great equalizer. It fuels the life of 'authentic' Christianity; it makes us view ourselves and others as we really are: fallen and redeemed creatures who bear God's image.
Grace breaks down our own pride. We can see the needs of others above our own.
Grace allows us to forgive. When we hear of sins people have committed (wheter against us or not), we will not demand just recompense. We also can share or sins or difficulties with others and hope they too can forgive us and show grace to us in our own time of need (which is all the time).
Grace forces us to seek God. It originated with God, and it continues with him forever.
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