Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Place Of Grace

16 For of His fullness we have all received, and grace upon grace. – John 1:16 (NASB95)
Walls don't just divide us. They make us ill. After the Berlin Wall went up, East German psychiatrists observed that the Berlin Wall caused mental illness, rage, dejection, and addiction. The closer to the physical wall people lived, the more acute their disorders. The only cure for "Wall Disease" was to bring the Wall down. Sure enough, in 1990, psychiatrists noted the "emotional liberation" felt after November 9, 1989 when the Wall finally fell. Thousands of jubilant Germans climbed the Wall, wept, and embraced each other atop the concrete, and proceeded to tear the Wall down with joyful abandon. – Adapted from Marcello Di Cintio, Walls: Travels Along the Barricades (Soft Skull Press, 2013), pp. 10-12
Not all walls divide and make us ill, but some surely do. Walls of our homes should be healthy and supportive. Walls of businesses make it possible to create, sell, and serve. Walls of a bank should declare strength, security and confidence. So, walls can be good or walls can be bad. It depends on what’s happening inside the walls.

Churches have walls. Yes, I mean the walls of our buildings for one thing. The building isn’t the church, but the walls of our buildings say something. If the church is people, we need to know that people have walls too. They aren't brick, or metal, or wood, but they are walls nonetheless. We put up walls to keep some people out of our lives and others in.

I want to sort of combine those “church walls” into one metaphorical wall. I want to combine the walls of our building and the walls of our hearts into one wall because there is something I think the church needs to hear. Remember I said earlier that walls can be good or bad depending on what’s happening inside the walls? I want you to think about that. What’s happening inside the church? Whether it’s the walls of your heart or the walls of our building, what’s happening inside?

It’s too easy to forget what “church” is all about. First and foremost, we’re followers of Jesus. We are the redeemed, the saved, the justified, the sanctified. None of that is because we’re all that great. We need a fresh view of ourselves as sinners in need of help. We have little, if anything, to offer God. If we’re saved, it’s because God loved us in spite of ourselves, granted us mercy and grace, and washed us in the blood of Jesus. We didn’t achieve our salvation, Jesus did. If we forget that, we’ve forgotten something vital, urgent, and revealing.

What’s going on inside the walls of the church? I want to suggest to you that inside those walls, whether physical walls of a building or symbolic walls of your heart, church needs to be a place of grace. Grace doesn’t mean we deny or ignore sin. Grace means you can be forgiven and live better. Grace is what gives hope to dying people. Let’s be a place of grace - in your heart, in our house.