Monday, May 4, 2009

Church Sign

Current sign at a local Baptist church:

"Grace - not a licence to sin, but a reason to serve."

5 comments:

Bino M. said...

hmmmmmmm :)

Joel B. said...

So many thoughts on this. LOL.

My family's church's motto is "Doin' the Stuff." The focus, although having had more grace come into it in recent years, is the outward works of the Christian life. The messages are based upon "principles for Christian living." Three years ago I wrote this article for the church's monthly magazine. My purpose at the time was to take the emphasis off of the "doin the stuff" and onto the essence of the entire Christian life: grace.

I think it did help to bring about a mindset change in the church, and as I said there has been more of a focus on grace. But unfortunately I think that in some ways the grace teachings have been more along the lines of this church sign. Grace... yes... wonderful grace. But we have grace as a means to serve. Argh!

As I said in the article, yes indeed grace IS the power in the Christian life when it comes to our outward actions. But I think the underlying point is missed, that the focus is not "doin the stuff" (serving) but rather "rest" and "abiding in the Vine," and His working in and through us.

Bino M. said...

Couldn't agree with you more, Joel!

PTB said...

Gal 5:13 For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only [use] not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another.

Seems to me this verse is pretty clear. The love of God, shown through His grace, gives me freedom from the power of sin. With that power I decide how that freedom is used. As I "abide" in Christ the overflow could lead to nothing but service. What could possibily be more Christlike than love fueled service? Just a thought.

Joel B. said...

PTB,

Indeed it's so very true that a natural outflow of grace is people serving one another in love.

What I've personally seen over the years is that the emphasis, in whatever evangelical church I've been in, is serving, working, doing, producing, etc. A constant barrage of rules, methods and principles for Christian living. "Grace" is simply a subject to touch on now and then, and when it is mentioned, the purpose is always a means of getting people to do, do, do.

There seems to be very little emphasis in the church today on the unconditional agape love of God and His grace - His love and grace toward us that has absolutely nothing to do with our performance / serving / fruit bearing. I think this should be the emphasis (after all I think it's God's emphasis toward us), and then serving each other, in love, will become much more of a natural outflow rather than us having to beat it out of each other. :) But the church today is not rooted in grounded in love. It's rooted and grounded in works. It's not grounded in liberty. It's not grounded and established and rooted in God's intimate love and grace. People may understand they are "saved by grace," but after that it's as if the Christian life is all about serving, serving, serving, doing, doing, doing. They don't feel that God is intimate with them and loves them deeply and unconditionally, and I think a huge reason for that is that the focus is on works and not on God's love and grace. At one church I was taught that we are "saved to serve." NO! We are saved to have a beautiful, intimate relationship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Went longer with this than I thought I would... LOL... but it's just my passion I guess. :)