This past Sunday, I led our third Foundations Class based on Fully Devoted by John Ortberg. Our first class was on Grace. Our second class was about Growth. And our third class focused on Groups. As you may imagine, I was pretty excited about this week. I’m a huge grouplife fan, and I have a passion for seeing people connected in community through groups.
The lesson for this week reminded me that being in a group is more than just about connection. Being in a group is about experiencing the life transforming power of truth and grace. You see, we all need truth and grace in our lives. If we have too much grace and not enough truth, we will miss out on growth. We will fail to face up to things in our lives that need change and transformation. On the other hand, if we have too much truth in our lives and not enough grace, we will get bogged down in the sin that entangles all of us. We need both truth and grace in equal amounts.
When it comes to dispensing truth and grace to those around us, we also need to be balanced. We need to speak both truth and grace into those around us. When we fail to do this, we miss out on showing love. My friend, Diane, showed me a great chart that helps to demonstrate this principle. I’ll do my best to explain it.
Looking at the chart above, Grace is plotted along the x or horizontal axis and Truth is plotted along the y or vertical axis (I love this kind of talk!). If we fail to show grace and we fail to show truth, it shows are lack of involvement in the lives of others (this is the RED area of the chart). When we show truth and we fail to show grace, we are graceless (the YELLOW area of the chart). On the other side of the spectrum, when we show grace and we fail to show truth, we are lying (the GREEN area of the chart). Where we hit our sweet spot, we show both truth and grace (the BLUE area of the chart). This is how we truly exhibit love towards one another.
Christian community isn’t always perfect. Over the years, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly that can sometimes happen even amongst groups that call themselves Christian. We need to strive for the best. We need to be marked as people who love. Love happens when truth and grace coexist. And I believe that small groups are a perfect place to flesh this out.
Do you have a relationship where grace and truth exist? Are you in a small group? Why or why not?
We’re all bastards but God loves us anyway.
– Will Campbell
I found this quote in Phil Yancey‘s book, What’s So Amazing About Grace. In this book, Yancey shares a story (A Home For Bastards) about Will Campbell’s conversation with P. D. East, anti-Christian newspaper editor. Campbell’s quote ties in to the topic of a class I’ll be leading over the next several weeks. In the Foundations Class, we’ll be using John Ortberg‘s book, Fully Devoted, to discuss spiritual transformation. Each week, we’ll talk about one of the five Gs (Grace, Growth, Groups, Gifts, and Giving).
This week, we’ll be talking about Grace. As the quote above implies, grace is undeserved by all, but God gives it anyway. The story of the prodigal son in Luke 15:11-32 is a wonderful story of grace. In this parable, the younger son of a rich ruler decides to cash in his inheritance early. He completely squanders the money, and he is eventually left to live with the pigs.
In a stroke of awakening, he decides to crawl back to his father to request a job as a servant. In the story, the father sees the son comes back from a distance, and he runs to him with open arms. The father welcomes his son back as a son and not as a servant. The father extends grace to the son.
Meanwhile, the older, loyal son sees what is happening and becomes jealous of the grace extended to his brother. He misses out on the loving grace already extended to him by the father. This can be an easy place to find myself as a long time Christian – and a first-born son. The story is a good lesson that God’s grace is open to all who chose to accept it and to return home to a loving Father.
If you’re interested in getting in on the conversation, come join us at the Foundations Class. We’re meeting Sunday mornings at 10:15am at Christ’s Church of the Valley. There are also other Foundations Classes being offered if this time slot doesn’t work for you.
How have you experienced grace?