Ray McDonald's Blog

Thoughts and Reflections

What The Church Needs Today Is More Of God’s Grace

Romans 5:8

But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.

IMG_0301I’m going to start today with the bottom line – we are all sinners saved by grace. You can stop reading now and you have the jest of this blog post. Here are three Scriptures that make today’s point. They are familiar passages and often quoted.

Romans 3:23 – for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.

Romans 5:8 – But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Ephesians 2:8 – For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.

God’s grace was shown to all of us through Jesus Christ. Every one of us deserves hell – yet God’s free gift of salvation gives those who turn to His saving grace – eternal life.

grace-of-godRomans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My Facebook feed – my Twitter feed – my e-mail – is filled – daily it seems – with people debating what is sin and what is not (and I have joined in the discussion/debate at times). My feeds are filled with well-meaning people debating sin and trying to define sin. Defining sin and calling people to repentance is important. The people of God need to understand what is not pleasing to God – for sure. But the church will NEVER draw people to Jesus – IMHO – by defining sin. Defining sin and calling folks to repentance is essential – but what draws people to Jesus is His Amazing Grace. Grace – showered on an undeserving – sinful people – who would be headed to hell without it! If the United Methodist Church is to survive and even grow – it must Major in grace and minor in sin definition – IMHO.

Our denomination has spent great resources – for four decades – debating sexuality and whether sin is involved in a person’s sexual expressions. The answer is yes – we are a sinful people and much of our natural self is sinful – even our lustful thoughts. But if we wish to draw people to Jesus – again I say – we must minor is sin definition and major in grace! This is just my humble opinion.

In the following passage – it was Jesus’ grace that I believe drew the woman to follow Him – not His definition of sin (although He did call her to go and sin no more). It is grace that draws people to Jesus!

John 8:2–11 – 2 At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3 The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4 and said to Jesus, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5 In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” 6 They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him. But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7 When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” 8 Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9 At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10 Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 “No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

I’m not suggesting that we forget our discussions and debates over sin – or what pleases God – but I am saying we will not draw people to Jesus by debating sin. The teachers of the law and Pharisees were right – adultery is sinful – as is all sinful thought and action outside of marriage between one man and one woman – and according to the law – punishment should have been dealt. But – Jesus did not come to condemn – if He had we would all be lost! Jesus came to show grace to those who would receive it.

John 3:17 – For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Now grace is not an excuse to sin. We should not continue to sin so that grace may abound (Romans 6:1). But – grace is what it is all about – none of us are worthy – it is through grace that any of us will be saved.

Just something to think about today as you go on your way.

June 12, 2015 - Posted by | Church, Community, Daily Devotion, Denomination, Discipleship, Encouragement, Evangelism, Faith Journey, Family, From the Pastor, Holy Spirit, Leadership, Outreach, Personal, Prayer, Sermons, Theology, Vision | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. Amen. Grace too often seems to be lacking within the church. I posted a poll recently in a Facebook group for Christian geocachers. (https://www.facebook.com/groups/42186560197/). In short, I asked which would cause less anxiety or discomfort, being in a new area where you didn’t know anyone and a attending a geocaching meet and greet or attending a worship service at a random nearby church. So far, out of 12 responses, NO ONE, has said the church service. 8 chose the caching event, 3 said “neither would be an issue” and 1 said “both would be”.

    Some of the specific comments…

    “I hate to say it… but I’ve found geocachers to be more accepting of those not “in their clan” than many churches are.”

    “I used to travel for business a lot & you never know what to expect going into a ‘new’ Church. What they believe, how they worship, how they dress (what should I wear- a suit, I might be over-dressed, jeans-I might be under-dressed)…do they accept outsiders?…I believe in raising my hands in praise, do they??? Show up at a geocaching event in jeans & a T-shirt or dockers & a polo shirt you fit right in & everybody accepts you!”

    “I never felt just how judgmental fellow Christians could be until I was discussing how somebody dressed with a guy I grew up going to church with. He claimed that you could tell the person under discussion was evil because he “looks evil.” And he backed it up with “Avoid the very appearance of evil”… which is a bad translation of the original, which is more along the lines of “avoid every kind of evil.” And when I pointed out that “Man looks at the outward appearance, but God looks at the heart”… I was told that didn’t apply. So black clothing, makeup and tatoos on a man apparently make him evil. I may not fit that description… but I have had plenty of Christian friends and influences over the years that do. And it hurt even more that he had several other Christian brothers and sisters backing him up and patting him on the back for being “raised right.” Knowing there are plenty of people out there like that is what makes me a little more leary about approaching an unknown church. But I still do it when I’m out of town.”

    If this is how some Christians feel going to a new church how must non-Christians or “seekers” feel when approaching a church?


    Comment by Dave Self | June 12, 2015 | Reply

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