Summary: Grace is sometimes hard to understand and can seem rather uncomfortable at times. But living a life of grace is what Jesus Christ has called us to.
The Grace – Giver
What does the Christian Church have to offer that the world cannot offer?
What sets Christianity apart from any other religion, society or group?
Gordon MacDonald, a Christian author once said this, “The world can do almost anything as well as or even better than the church. You need not be a Christian to build houses, feed the hungry, or heal the sick. There is only one thing the world cannot do. It cannot offer grace.”
Grace is what sets us apart from the ways of the world. The gospel of Jesus Christ, is the gospel of GRACE. My favorite writer and theologian is C.S Lewis. He was once invited to a British conference on comparative religions, where experts around the world debated what, if any belief was unique to the Christian faith. I can imagine some of these philosophers and theologians sitting around a table for hours discussing such topics as the virgin birth or the Incarnation of Christ. As the story has been told in “What’s So Amazing About Grace” by Philip Yancey, C.S Lewis wanders into the room, and says in his very British accent, “What is all the rumpus about?” They reply, obviously saying that they are discussing the uniqueness of Christianity. Lewis quickly responds, “Oh, that’s easy, It is Grace.”
Unfortunately, many Christians have no idea what it means to live in Grace.
We need to make one thing clear before we continue any further. As Pastor Rick has led us through the first chapter of Galatians, we have seen that we are saved by grace, through faith. It is not grace plus something that brings salvation; It is by Grace alone, through faith in Jesus Christ.
So we are saved by grace, and so now the question is, how then do we live? Today we aren’t going to talk so much about saving grace, but living in Grace.
What does it mean to be a Grace- Giver?
Jesus has called to a life of grace. So we need to find out what GRACE is all about.
Here’s an example of the lack of grace that can quickly permeate our churches.
A columnist Erma Bombeck wrote this:
“In church the other Sunday I was intent on a small child who was turning around and smiling at everyone. He wasn’t gurgling, spitting, humming, kicking, tearing the hymnals, or rummaging through his mother’s handbag. HE WAS JUST SMILING. Finally his mother jerked him about and in a stage whisper that could be heard in a little theatre off Broadway said, “Stop that grinning! You’re in church!”
With that, she gave him a belt and as the tears rolled down his cheeks added, “That’s better,” and returned to her prayers…”
The author continues writing: “Suddenly I was angry. It occurred to me the entire world is in tears, and if you’re not, then you’d better get with it. I wanted to grab this child with the tear stained face close to me and tell him about my God. The happy God. The smiling God. The God who had to have a sense of humor to have created the likes of us…By tradition, one wears faith and solemnity of a mourner, the gravity of a mask of tragedy, and the dedication of a Rotary badge.
What a fool I thought. Here was a woman sitting next to the only light left in our civilization – the only hope, our only miracle – our only promise for infinity. If he couldn’t smile in church, where was he left to go?”
Now my intent of reading this column is not to suggest that all Christians have lost all sense of joy and excitement, because we know that’s not true, even of many here today, who are tremendously excited and who display that sense of joy and freedom in their lives, because of the Spirit of the Lord working in and through them. However, it is a reality that there are many Christians who have either forgotten what it means to live in Grace, or who have never truly experienced that reality. Jesus spoke more about living in Grace, then living with a bunch of rules, and Paul caught that fire. Paul was gripped with the gospel of GRACE. In Galatians 2:1-10, Paul gives us a glimpse of what a Grace-Giver looks like.
A. The Life of the Grace Giver (2:1-2)
“Fourteen years later I went up again to Jerusalem, this time with Barnabas. I took Titus along also. I went in response to a revelation and set before them the gospel that I preach among the Gentiles. But I did this privately to those who seemed to be leaders, for fear that I was running or had run my race in vain.”
The first thing we see here is that Paul traveled a lot, for the sake of the gospel of Jesus Christ. What we don’t see right away, is the life that he endured because he was a grace-giver. As I was preparing this sermon and asking the Lord to show me what I could share with you, I was impacted tremendously by life that Paul chose to live.