What’s my part? What’s your part? What’s God’s part?
When I first received the message of grace I was in such awe over the gospel. It was like getting born again, again! The passion for my salvation returned and I wanted to shout it from therooftopss! You see I had been a bipolar Christian riding an emotional roller coaster with Jesus since I was first saved. When I’d spend time with Jesus and put him first in my daily life, I was sky high with Jesus! But as soon as I failed, even a little bit, I wallowed in self pity, guilty and ashamed of myself.
No matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t be good enough.
God’s expectations were just so high. I didn’t know why we were broke, when everyone else was so blessed. We were so broke, one morning, after my quiet time, I got up to pack a lunch for my kids, but realizing I didn’t even have crackers for them, I went back to my prayer closet and cried out on the floor for God to do a miracle. And He did! God put it on a couple of my friend’s hearts to buy groceries and filled my kitchen with Costco!
But even though I knew God would provide for me, where was the promises of the windows of heaven being opened? People would tell me the secret to blessings was to seek God first and tithe in every area of my life. And I was doing that, for years! When would I have a break through? Why was it working for others and not me?
So I kept trying. I kept trying to please God. I kept my 2-hour quiet time, but it only got worse. Still broke, with my marriage on the line, in desperation I went to a women’s bible study at church. They started teaching me about grace and would use this word, ‘righteousness’.
So I buried my head in the book of Romans for six months with this one question for God, “Am I really righteous regardless of my behavior?” And pow! There it was, “Abraham believed God and was credited righteousness.” It was by faith and faith alone! He didn’t have to do anything to be righteous except believe! It was a free gift!
This was my part: to believe! That’s it! I was so excited about this message of grace! Grace meant I was blessed regardless of my behavior, I was accepted regardless of my behavior, I’m already holy and forgiven and loved regardless of my behavior! Even if I didn’t tithed or ever gave a cent to the church, God’s blessing was available! My behavior had nothing to do with his favor on my life! Coming from believing I had to do something in order to be blessed, this rocked my world! I became a grace preacher everywhere I went!
As I meditated more and more on grace, I got bitter toward the church. Why didn’t you tell me about this wonderful grace? Why have I been trying to be good enough all these years? Why did you tell me I had to do all these things to be blessed? The hairs on the back of my head stood up in anger toward the church and the pastor. I couldn’t go to church anymore.
Isolated from the church and mad at the pastor, I got depressed. The only prayer I could pray was, “God complete the good work you began in me. I have nothing left.”
One day in bitterness, I was complaining again about the church and the leadership and heard Jesus wisper to me, “Dana, those people in the church, and the leadership, that’s my bride. And I love them. I love them with all their spots and blemishes and wrinkles.”
It hit me like a ton of bricks. If I was forgiven of everything I had ever done and will do. Could I extend that same forgiveness to the church? Was it possible to stop complaining about others in the church? Was it possible to love when they were unlovely? Just like Jesus did for me? Could I walk in honor of the bride? Lay my life down for her? Even if they didn’t understand the grace I understood?
If the bride is the glory of her husband, the church is the glory of Jesus.
It is the one avenue Christ said he would reveal himself to the world. It is the one institution Jesus set up. All through the New Testament, Paul is building the church and putting it in order. He laid his life down for the church. Can we do the same? Is it possible to love the bride? Can we love without a grudge? Can we stop judging each other in the church?
Jesus gave this one command to the church:
John 13:34,35 A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another. (NIV)
I’m sorry if pastors and church people have hurt you. I’m sorry if your church is not perfect. Will you join with me today and make a decision to honor the bride of Christ? Will you love like Jesus loved? Will you lay your life down like Jesus laid his life down? What if the body of Christ embraced the church like Jesus, and loved her with all her imperfections? Would the world take notice and want to be a part of something so loving? A place of complete acceptance? Will you be the change we need in the church today?
What’s God’s part?
2 Peter 1:3 & 4 as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.
God has already done His part by providing a way for us to have a relationship with Him! He already proved His love for us! He already gave us the power of the Holy Spirit inside of us.
What’s my part? I’m a Pastor, and It’s my job to equip the saints for the work of the ministry.
What’s your part? To do the work of the ministry which is: to believe in Jesus Christ, to stand against the enemy’s lies and to love your brothers and sisters in Christ. If we only do these three things, it will advance the kingdom of God on this earth because every human desires acceptance, love, and to make a change in this world.
Colossians 3:12-14 Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity. (NIV)
John 6:29 Jesus answered, “The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent.” (NIV)