I've been home with a virus since Sunday afternoon. It was a rough weekend. I even missed the Super Bowl. For those of you in church Sunday morning, you're probably wishing I would have skipped the morning services. I wanted to, but truly felt God wanted me to begin this series of messages titled "No Perfect People Allowed." We're looking at the life of Paul as an example of extravagent grace. Here's a man who was super religious and righteous in his own eyes. He even thought he was pleasing God. The thing was, he was doing the exact opposite of what God desired.
The story is incredible. Check out Acts 9. I'll upload last Sunday's sermon as soon as I get back in the office.
However, in these days stuck at home, recovering from this virus, I've been thinking much about this concept of grace and the 21st century church.
I shared back in January how this was a key year for our church. That being said, we knew the Enemy would attack. Now, I believe spiritual warfare is real. I'm not saying we are to live in fear that there's a demon behind every bush ready to jump out at you, but the battle in the heavenlies and the spiritual realm is very real. It's a battle for the heart and we all have a role to play in the story.
I try to figure out why attacks come when they do. A few weeks ago I asked for prayer requests from church members that felt they needed the pastors praying for them specifically. I received numerous requests that ranged from marital problems, cancer, children's issues, fear, and anger. We have been praying for you. This is why the battle has intensified.
Some don't like my "battle" analogies. Sorry. Just calling it what it is.
The latest attack has come against our volunteer leaders, pastors and truthfully, the entire body of believers here at First Baptist. I've heard the word "hypocritical" used. I honestly expected that. Words are powerful, and hurtful, and have come from well meaning sources, but with, what I would like to believe unintential hurt.
It boils down to the difficulty of grace. Grace is that unmerited favor that God shows us. That love we get, but don't deserve. The Bible is full of characters who have experienced this. In fact, every hero of the faith, except Jesus Christ, for he is the only perfect character in Scripture, experienced God's grace.
We all desire and want grace. Yet, for some reason, it's hard to show it to others at times. So, how can we get beyond this? We remember. We remember from where we came. We remember the grace shown to us by our Savior and when the opportunity comes, we express that to others.
Does this mean we create a world with no consequences? Absolutely not. While Scripture says under Christ we are without condemnation, it does not say we get to avoid consequences. Sin has consequence. Just read the Old Testament stories of David.
Here's where it leaves us. Church - stand firm. Pray like you've never prayed - for God's will, not mine, yours, a people group's, or popular opinion's will to be done. Make sure you are in a place where you can hear God. Believe me, discerning the voice of God is key. Unfortunately, most Christians are not there. If you need some insight into this process, I recommend the book "Walking with God" by John Eldredge.
Hypocritical church? Nah! Maybe misunderstood by some, but not hypocritical. You see, our goal is to hear God, study His Word and follow His lead. We'll be called things, much worse things, I believe. I thought I faced it all last summer, but apparently not.
We stand on a narrow place of righteousness (not on our own merit, but through the grace of God). As a friend once shared with me - "The narrow stance, on the Truth, gives us a broad influence."
So, stand firm. We are made stronger through difficulties.