As the new year dawns upon us, one thing and one thing alone, keeps ringing in my heart: that the church needs to grow in grace. If it were a matter of new year “resolutions”, then I would say, Let this year be a year of more grace for the church.
The church does not need more money, the church does not need more buildings nor (please!) does it need more private jets. What the church needs is more grace.
You could even go to the third heaven as the Apostle Paul did, and come back to earth; but if you do not have grace in your life, you are nothing. I mean you are nothing as far as God is concerned, of course. It is an undeniable fact that if you went to the third heaven and came back to earth you could become many things. You could become famous. You could start your own church or you could even write a book and become a star. But if you do not have grace in your heart, you are nothing. You are of no value to the church, and you are nothing in God’s sight.
One time a great preacher came to our church in Musoma and there was much to-do all over the place as the church bent itself over the edge to minister to this great man of God. Then one day the man woke up and he found the hot water for his bath was not ready yet.
He was a black man and he became so livid that if he could have gotten blacker he would have! He spoke many grace-less things. And the hapless young men we had put at his disposal to minister to him ran about like chickens in an effort to placate this preacher’s wrath.
No, the church needs more grace. It does no even need “great men of God”. In fact Jesus said that if you want to become a “great man of God” you should serve the weaker! Who is sufficient for such things? It is only the man or woman who has put aside his human nature.
Today it is like people are reading the Bible upside down, like Gaston in Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast”. But we must read the Bible straight up.
Grace is the inheritance that God has given to the church. The Apostle Paul puts it this way, “For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty…” (Gal. 5:13). He does not say that we have been called “to liberty and…” No. He simply says we have been called to liberty, full stop. The word “liberty” there talks of grace. Grace to serve a God of grace. Grace is the church’s inheritance.
The church today is seeking after so many things. Doctrine after doctrine has been set up to seek after all the wrong things. But it is, as they say, “You are looking in the wrong place!”
There is only one thing we are to seek after: God’s grace for our lives. Jesus said, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mat. 5:33).
Let us desire to make 2015 a year of grace for the church. Then the world will see and they will admire our lives. Jesus said that it is by walking in love that we would reveal Him to the world: “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another” (Jn. 13:35).
[Below: Today I leave you with one of the songs that have made my holiday season memorable, “Mary Did You Know”]