Summary: From a series on our church’s Core Values.
Trinity Baptist Church
April 2, 2006
True Values: Grace Driven Authenticity
Philip Yancey wrote: "Grace comes free of charge to people who do not deserve it and I am one of those people. I think back to whom I was -- resentful, wound tight with anger, a single hardened link in a long chain of "un-grace" learned from family and church. Now, I am trying in my own small way to pipe…the tune of grace. I do so because I know, more surely than I know anything, that any pang of healing or forgiveness, or goodness, I have ever felt comes solely from the grace of God. I yearn for the church to become a nourishing culture of that grace".
“A nourishing culture of that grace.” When I read that, I thought, “isn’t it sad that people often find more grace and acceptance in places other than church?” Isn’t it tragic that people regularly enter churches and then leave again never finding grace. The sad reality of modern Christendom is, churches and Christian groups are often known more for their rules and musty religious pretense than for being authentic grace-freed followers of Jesus.
It’s common to believe in God’s grace but to be ungracious. It’s also common to preach grace, but not extend it. As people, we claim grace and forgiveness for ourselves, but we often demand performance from others. We need to understand Christ’s heart for His Church.
When we do, we’ll see that Yancey’s right when He describes the best future of the church as being a “nourishing culture of grace“.
We’re spending 8 Sundays thinking biblically about our “Core Values“. We began last time with the first -- “Scripture is foundational“. Today, is the second -- it’s inside your worship folder and on the outline. “Grace driven authenticity“.
The expansion is also there:
Grace-driven authenticity means that "we’re committed to a ’grace gospel’ -- no one earns salvation in any way -- we’re also committed to grace-oriented lifestyles and relationships. We avoid teaching and practicing legalism; we allow God the Holy Spirit to work in peoples’ lives, and we treat each other as God has treated us, with love, kindness, forgiveness and gentleness."
I said last time that our Values are principles we prize, ones which God has begun to build into us. The fact that we identify them as values doesn’t mean that we’ve “arrived”. They’re what we want God to work into us, individually and as a body. This second one, in particular, we need to re-visit again and again. That‘s because tucked inside our human DNA is an urge to not only try to earn God’s favor, but also to compare ourselves and out-perform others.
C.S. Lewis said, “Man is incurably religious.“
Our human pride makes us legalists by nature. We need regular, repeated doses of the Truth of grace to flush that garbage out of our thinking. We also love to give others a good impression. The result is a sort of Christian mushy niceness, but it’s not real righteousness. Grace also will remind us, it’s okay to let others see how much God still needs to work in our lives. Grace and authenticity walk hand in hand.
So what will characterize Christians who pursue grace-driven authenticity? The passage we look at today helps us discover, how to put a “face on grace“. It helps us celebrate grace -- in turn to “grace” each other. This moves us down the road to being real.
Let’s go back to the verses Rich read -- Colossians 3. Paul helps here see the relationship between God’s grace to, and ours toward one other.
First, he says
1. Grace driven people remember their heritage. (3:12)
The pattern here is common in most of the NT letters. First, comes the teaching of Truth -- what God has done -- then comes the urge to live by that Truth.
Let’s begin at 3:12. First, Paul describes the people he’s writing. If you’re a Christian, you can take these words as true about you. So, then as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved…. The NIV calls us God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved. A couple of weeks ago, I called someone, “holy one” and he laughed. But God’s Word uses precisely that language here and elsewhere in the NT, including in the letters to the carnal Corinthians. Before Paul calls us to be radically gracious to others, he reminds us of God’s radical grace that transformed us.
Who are we? First, we’re God’s chosen people. The Bible says, God has set His love on us. He set His intentions on us as His very own. Israel was God’s single chosen people in the OT. He established a covenant with them to be His -- He marked them out to be distinct and unique from every nation on the Earth. When Jesus died and rose, He established a new covenant with a new body of people -- the Church, His Body.