One of the foundations of the Christian faith is of God’s grace. It is how we get to have a real relationship with Him. Paul, one of the most prominent leaders and theologians of the early Church reminds us often. Following on, as Christ followers serving in the church we tend to emphasize, how God brings us to Himself. This we must celebrate. We must also remember that it goes further than that.
God, by His grace, invites us into relationship. Not only that, we’re also invited into a grander narrative. A story that transcends time and generations. God’s enacted desire for all people to have relationship with him. For the restoration of all creation. After talking about how God brings us to Himself, Paul, told believers in Ephesus and today:
‘For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.’ Ephesians 2:10 (NLT)
The longer we serve it seems easy to forget we also serve by grace. This isn’t something unique to church staff or volunteers but can also applies to all Christians everywhere. It is easy to slip into believing that people coming to faith depends solely on us. We forget that we’re only called to be participants in the wider work of the Spirit.
If not careful, the privilege of serving God and His mission can become a burden because of the pressure we take on. Unguarded We can forget that we get promoted to play parts we don’t deserve.
Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more–no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries, and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of righteous causes.
Here’s a reminder that as we serve or take part in the life of the Church, we’re not doing it for God’s approval. He already loves us. It isn’t how well we rig gear, lead worship or deliver sermons that determines His pleasure in us. I’m not saying we can’t or shouldn’t do things well, I’m reminding you and that God already takes pleasure in us.
Grace on Ourselves
Sometimes the healer is the one needing healing. I’ve marveled at people’s reluctance or objections to accept forgiveness. Yet, I’ve struggled with forgiving myself. Sometimes we’re unkind to ourselves because we didn’t film and edit that video better. Or sound wasn’t great, and we beat ourselves up.
“I think that if God forgives us, we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise, it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.” ― C.S. Lewis
Sometimes we need the reminder. The same way we want others to appreciate the grace extended to them, we must be gracious to ourselves. Beat ourselves up because we’re not as brilliant as some of our heroes is another one. It’s OK to be inspired by others in a similar area of service but it shouldn’t condemn us. Work at being better but don’t allow what you are not stop you from who God made you to be. You’re wired that way for a reason. Embrace and revel in that as best you can. God will take pleasure in that.
‘We will not boast about things done outside our area of authority. We will boast only about what has happened within the boundaries of the work God has given us, which includes our working with you. ‘ 2 Corinthians 10:13 (NLT)
In the End
We’re saved by grace and serve by grace. We’re not always going to get things right. God came for us when we weren’t getting things right. And, sometimes, even in our best efforts to serve His mission, we miss the mark. His grace is still extended to us. Just in case you needed the reminder. Maybe you need this for later.