Summary: Many times the unsaved and unchurched are pushed away from Christianity by parishioners who create an atmosphere of ungrace.

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25 “Meanwhile, the older son was in the field. When he came near the house, he heard music and dancing. 26 So he called one of the servants and asked him what was going on. 27 ‘Your brother has come,’ he replied, ‘and your father has killed the fattened calf because he has him back safe and sound.’

28 “The older brother became angry and refused to go in. So his father went out and pleaded with him. 29 But he answered his father, ‘Look! All these years I’ve been slaving for you and never disobeyed your orders. Yet you never gave me even a young goat so I could celebrate with my friends. 30 But when this son of yours who has squandered your property with prostitutes comes home, you kill the fattened calf for him!’

31 “‘My son,’ the father said, ‘you are always with me, and everything I have is yours.’” [Luke 15:25-32]

The Big Idea: A life of ungrace is characterized by rock-stacking and finger-pointing.

In 1927 in St. Louis, Missouri, C.L. Grigg tried his luck with limes, lemons and soda. After two years of mixing eleven different formulas, the bubbliest lemon-lime soft drink was born – Bib-Label Lithiated Lemon-Lime Soda. It was a blend of seven natural flavors that combined to give it a savory taste, which packed a real nose-tingling wallop.

In 1967, American pop culture became synonymous with this now famous “Uncola” brand. As an icon, Uncola was featured in the 2011 final challenge on The Apprentice and has shown up in faraway places like Survivor remote location.

For decades, this soda has been used as a folksy medical remedy, instructing everyone with acid reflux to drink Uncola to soothe an upset stomach.

Have you figured out what this nose-tingling, clear Uncola is?


This bubbly soda has become the nemesis of Coca-Cola and Pepsi-Cola, with an obvious branding of UN-cola! It’s clear and made from seven natural flavors. It was also among the first sodas to offer caffeine- and sugar-free options. 1

7 (red dot) UP is on a marketing mission to evangelize Coke drinkers and bring them from the dark side to the cool, refreshing world of Uncola. It seems to be working. 7UP has become one of the top-selling brands of all time.

Un's mission? To destroy the sugary, syrupy world of Coke drinkers. Un is synonymous with revolt. With overthrow. As 7UP goes about its mission to undo Coke from its lofty perch, so ungrace goes about its business to unthrow and overthrow grace.

Ungrace is the dark side.

Ungrace is a parent shushing her child in church and announcing, "No smiling while Pastor is preaching!”

Ungrace is a puritan wondering if somebody is happy somewhere or anywhere.

Ungrace is a fallen Christian thinking the last place they would turn to for help is the church.

Christians and churches can pick up a reputation for Ungrace.

Grace is God's greatest gift to humanity. No one had a better view of grace than the apostle John. Not one of Jesus’ grace-filled encounters slipped past John's watchful eye. His former mentor, John the Baptist, liked the burning breezes of the desert. John was sure it would drive out evil and temptation.

Jesus was attracted to the cool waters and shoreline of the Galilee region. He seemed to like happiness over harshness, crowds over isolation. Jesus chooses Grace over Ungrace. John tells us that Moses brought the law (ungrace) and Jesus brought the grace.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1 – NIV)

The church cannot compete against the world in building organizations, healing the sick or caring for the poor. Innovation and wealth beat out the church every time. But when it comes to offering grace, the church wins hands down. If the church is not active and aggressive in exporting grace, the world will find a cheap substitute.

Why does a person go to church? Could it be that people are searching for grace?

Author Philip Yancey thinks so. “The Italian novelist Ignazio Silone wrote about a revolutionary hunted by the police. In order to hide him, his comrades dressed him in the garb of a priest and sent him to a remote village in the foothills of the Alps. Word got out, and soon a long line of peasants appeared at his door, full of stories of their sins and broken lives. The "priest” protested and tried to turn them away, to no avail. He had no recourse but to sit and listen to the stories of people starving for grace.” 2

All too often in the search for grace, what the unchurched and dechurched get is shame and snooty followers of Jesus. As one little English girl prayed, "O God, make the bad people good, and the good people nice." 3

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