Value #7 – Love and grace expressed among us in community.
“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)
When I was a child, I would go to the swimming pool to watch the other kids. They were laughing and playing and having a great time. But, because I couldn’t pay for admission, I was on the outside looking in. So I would just hang on the chain-link fence watching and drooling. Think about it. That’s how attractive our love for one another should be to the unbeliever. There should be people hanging on the chain-link fence of the Church dying to get in.
The community of Jesus is driven not only by the dignity and value of every person, but by the expression of love and grace based on that conviction. It is the byproduct of really believing in the worth of the individual.
The kind of love we demonstrate toward others is not based on merit but on God’s prerogative in creation and His commandments. We work at nurturing, helping, caring, and protecting others in our family because of their worth to the Father. It’s what loyal family members do.
Grace is extended to others because it was first extended to us. It’s a given in a fallen world that others will offend and abuse us (just as we do to God). Our supernatural response is to give grace, mercy, and forgiveness. This is the Jesus way that is so radically different from the world. It builds a community with Kingdom values and is irresistible.
A word about Grace and Truth: I really don’t like to talk about these as mutually exclusive. Grace and truth are like the wings on an airplane, one is not more important than the other. We have been in a season in Christianity where I’m afraid one is diminished for the other. Let me be plain. This is an affront to the Lord Jesus Christ! Jesus came full of grace and truth. To divorce one from another flies in the face of the Author of Salvation. You can never have too much truth or too much grace. They fit hand in hand. When we express the truth correctly it becomes a gracious act of love. And when we give grace appropriately, we are a living example of the Truth. This is how Jesus lived and expects us to do the same.
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