PREACHING GRACE AND EXHIBITING GRACE

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BY STEVE DUNN

Today the Executive Director of my denomination conference, Nick DiFrancesco posted this question on Facebook. Pondering a simple belief this morning. The limits of your ability to love and forgive are an indicator of your understanding of God. The respect and sympathy you have for the lost is as well. Thoughts?  His question resulted in many comments and comments on the comments.

Here was my comment: Both are non-negotiable and unconditional. One of the great stumbling blocks to evangelism is to preach grace without exhibiting grace.

There has never been a time in history nor a generation in greater need of the message of God’s salvation which is grounded in His unconditional love and empowered through His amazing grace.  Never !

I am reminded of John’s words in chapter 3, verses 16-17 of his gospel.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. “

Christians are not the only people who see a culture in trouble and more and more people further and further from God.  When I was growing up the gospel message was so framed in the condemnation of people’s sins that you had to look hard to see the Good News. Many a non-believer was turned away from their journey towards Christ by the messengers that there developed the ironic reality best described by Dan Kimball, “They like Jesus but not the church.”   Too many Christians acted as if verse 17 was but a nice tag line instead of an expression of verse 16, an interpretation rooted in the word “for” the begins verse 17 linking the two verses together.

I could launch into an analysis that gives dozens of examples of people (and churches) who preached the grace of God (and sang “Amazing Grace” at their funerals) but whose relationship with non-Christians, especially those whose values and lifestyles were at odds with those same Christians.

Instead I want my readers to simply ask themselves the question: Is my message of grace reflected in my relationships with others?  And if not, what will I do about it. In addition to the Great Commandment and the second Greatest (you know them), let me add two more verses from God’s Word – both words from men whose lives were changed by the grace of Christ.  One, in fact, God’s enemy.

“But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect,” – 1 Peter 3.15

The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” – Galatians 5.6b

Instead of fighting culture wars so passionately and being so focused on people’s affirmation of us as persons, let’s get back to being agents of God’s grace.  That is where the Good News is found.

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© 2019 by Stephen L. Dunn. You have permission to reprint this provided it is unchanged, proper authorship is cited, it is in a publication not for sale, and a link is provided to this site or to http://www.drstevedunn.com. For all other uses, contact Steve at sdunnpastor@gmail.com

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