Life At Its Best: Express God's grace, compassion to those around us
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We're an expressive culture. If you're in doubt, just look at social media's recent rise in popularity.
Why do we like Twitter and Facebook so much? Because they give us the opportunity to express ourselves.
Unfortunately, when we do, it doesn't always have the effect we hoped it would have.
A perfect example of this is when one of my high school friends decided to buy elephant pants. I tried to convince him otherwise, but when a cute college girl told him she liked them, I realized my opinion didn't stand a chance. So, he bought them.
A few days later, he wore the pants to school, excited to "express himself" and show off his new taste in clothes. Unfortunately, the reaction he got was far from what he had expected. When our friends saw his pants, they couldn't help but laugh. What had looked so good in my friend's eyes looked totally different to everyone else.
Recently, I've noticed that the same thing often happens in the church. The way we invite people to experience God can look one way to us but totally different to those we're trying to reach.
I recently read a book that explained why this happens. In it, they quote a study that says that the most common reason people stay out of church is because they feel judged.
You see, most people desire not just to find an ultra-relevant church that suits their style. What they're looking for is a place where they feel loved and can have their deepest needs met.
That's the kind of place Jesus described in Luke 14:12-14. He was talking to a Pharisee who was struggling to get crowds to church. Jesus advised, "When you give a luncheon or a dinner, do not invite your friends, your brothers or relatives, or rich neighbor . But when you give a banquet, invite the poor, the crippled, the lame, the blind, and you will be blessed."
In these verses, Jesus defined the whole purpose of the church. First, he said that it's to be a place where people's spirits are constantly fed. Then, he says it's to be a place not for us alone but for the poor, crippled, lame, and blind.
So as a believer, when you express yourself, are you doing it with an attitude of love, acceptance and the grace of God? Or are you expressing your own religious ideas?
As it's often said, the church is to be a hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.
There's a world out there that has been blinded to God's love because of the pain sin has caused. People long for a place where they can be satisfied.
As the church, we can be the place that richly resources those needs. So let's decide today to adopt Jesus' standard of ministry and express God's grace and compassion to those around us. When we do, we'll see his house flooded with those set on seeking him.
Jim Graff is the senior pastor of Faith Family Church in Victoria. faithfamilyvictoria.com.