Summary: In conversations with people there is one thing I hear too often, and that is: “Boy, the Church sure is in a sad state these days.” When I read the scriptures I sense that I am truly reading about God’s grace. Grace is God’s gift to us. Grace is, then,
Rom. 11.1-2a, 29-32; Matt. 15:21-28
A. In conversations with people there is one thing I hear too often, and that is: “Boy, the Church sure is in a sad state these days.”
B. Saddens me because the church has had such an incredible affect on me.
1. Jesus shows grace and mercy to people throughout the Gospels, forgiving people, healing people, even those who may be considered unworthy of such gifts.
2. People calling themselves Christians have shown the world so little of the grace of God shown through Jesus which has been so freely given.
3. Phillip Yancey, "What’s So Amazing About Grace" = he calls the world’s actions “ungrace”
D. There are so many examples of God’s grace throughout the Bible.
1. If I could just follow them and take more heed to the subtleties of them,
2. take heed to the unconditional love shown in them,
3. and show some humility in the face of my own shortfalls,
4. couldn’t I then show less “ungrace” to those with whom I come into contact, and offer them more of the grace (the free gift of love) that God shows me every day.
II. Grace Under Fire
A. Story in Phillip Yancey’s book
1. Friend working with “down-and-out” in Chicago
2. Hungry, homeless, and sick Prostitute comes to see him
3. Tells about “renting” 2-year old daughter out to men who are interested in kinky sex.
4. Knows its wrong but had no choice, more for daughter in one hour than her all night (starving, had to buy food)
5. Yancey’s friend stunned and speechless (legal obligation to report any instances of child abuse)
6. WHAT WOULD YOU SAY TO SOMEONE LIKE THIS?
7. Finally asks if she had thought of going to a church for help.
8. Face contorts, “Church? Why would I go there? I am already feeling terrible about myself! They’d just make me feel worse!”
B. Saddens me most: her reaction to the church, her reaction to us! (judgment and damnation).
1. Not the love Jesus taught, she knew it was wrong.
2. If she felt slightest bit welcome here, in God’s Church, among God’s people, she may never have resorted to renting her 2 year old child out in order to buy food. What has happened to us?
3. I myself was dismayed, sickened, and shocked at reading this story—then I became even more dismayed, sickened and shocked at my reaction. I might have been one those people of whom she was afraid.
4. Where have we gone astray where people are running away from Christ instead of to him for help?
C. Jesus and Canaanite woman.
1. Jesus knows his mission is only to the House of Israel for “from the Jews salvation shall come to all.”
2. Yet, takes time to minister to a Canaanite woman.
3. Canaanites considered unclean by Israelites, thus hostile.
4. Unfit to even be acknowledged, let alone have prayers answered and to be recognized for such faith!
5. Jesus offers her grace, an unearned, undeserving gift.
D. Seminary story.
1. God made a promise to me to never leave me and to lead me along the way, all I had to do was accept the offer.
2. God never failed me, promises were kept.
3. God’s love was free, all I had to do was accept it.
4. Grace = beauty, favor, goodwill, free gift, gratitude.
5. God was offering me a beautiful, free gift ...I had favor in God’s eyes, God chose me—and all I had to do was accept and the rest would be taken care of...and it has been!
b. spiritual and intellectual growth
c. loving me even when I have doubted the possibilities
d. and even gave me the incredible love of a beautiful woman, all of which I find myself incredible undeserving.
6. God gives us life, we mess it up, and God keeps on loving us—that is grace!
E. In Romans, Paul writes about the promise God made to the Israelites, that God will not fail them.
1. Jewish-Christian tensions rising.
2. Church in Rome most likely made up of Gentile (or non-Jewish) converts (Jews seen as the enemy)
3. Paul says, “NO! Stop!!! God, through Jesus, promised salvation by grace (a free gift of God), that promise is not and will not be reniged!”
F. Shooting in Los Angeles at the Jewish Community Center this last Tuesday
1. 5 injuries, two adults, three children (all recovering, but one not out of the woods yet) . . . 1 postal worker later reported as shot and killed.
2. In response, JCC’s across the country were responding with vigils, gatherings to pray for the victims and for the Jewish Community throughout the world.
3. JCC across the street called Carol in our office here at Grace Church to let us know about their vigil that night at 6:00pm, inviting us to participate.