By Dave Baldwin, Outreach Pastor
But my life is worth nothing to me unless I use it for finishing the work assigned me by the Lord Jesus—the work of telling others the Good News about the wonderful grace of God. - Acts 20:24
Read Acts 20:16-24
Most of us know the words to the hymn Amazing Grace by heart:
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see.
Sometimes when an idea becomes so familiar to us, we have a tendency to forget the true meaning behind it. In Philip Yancey’s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace, he tackles that issue at the core. Yancey points out that in Jesus’ day, people who were the outcasts, the most conspicuous types of sinners, (prostitutes, tax collectors, etc.) ran to Jesus. On the contrary, today many people that are down and out or struggling with sin and brokenness think that the church is the last place for them. How many times have you heard people say things like, “I’ll go to church after I clean my act up” or “why would I go to church with a bunch of hypocrites?” or “church people aren’t any fun, you can’t smoke, drink, … fill in the blank.”
The Greek word root for grace is charis which literally means “I rejoice, I am glad” In Acts 20:24, Paul tells us exactly what the Good News really is, “telling others about the wonderful grace of God.” Unfortunately, many times the church doesn’t really look like a place of rejoicing and gladness. When non-Christians think about going to church most of them don’t recognize it as a place where they can go and experience the free and unmerited favor of God. You see, that is what grace really is. And it’s revolutionary. Think about it. Does a salesperson keep their job if they don’t make any sales? Does your bank care if you pay back your car note or mortgage? Even in our churches, don’t we expect that the people that run our sound, play our worship, teach our kids, preach our sermons are qualified to do so and do it with excellence?
Former Apple CEO Steve Jobs mastered the art of tantalizing consumers with his “one more thing” at the end of keynote speeches. But the “Gospel of grace” has one more thing that is far more impressive than any iDevice ever created. God’s grace tells us that there is a level playing field. Not one person is righteous enough to earn God’s favor. Everyone is disqualified. The wages of our sins is death. But wait, there is “one more thing:” Because Jesus died for those sins, none of those other things matter. We all have a seat at God’s table.
What good news! You don’t have to clean up your act before running to God, and no matter how hard you try to earn God’s favor, you can’t! He gives away freely to those who love Him. That’s where breakthrough in the church comes in. When everyone takes the time to remember how amazing grace really is and acts like it is the revolutionary, life-changing, celebrating, party-worthy Gospel that the Apostle Paul gladly laid down his life for, we will see God move throughout His church in ways we never thought possible.
Questions for Reflection: