Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Grace-Filled Church

Over the next little while I'm going to explore some Grace filled topics. Ways that we can show grace in areas of our life to live differently than the rest of the world.


The first one I'm going to touch is a Grace-filled church.

"You are the LIGHT"(Matt 5:14)

What does the inside of your church look like? Can you look around and see a room of sinners or saints?

For so long I played the church game well. I put on my best clothes, makeup and smile and showed up every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wed night. It was exhausting. But I did it.

I bought in that if we weren't there every time the doors were open I was doing a disservice to my kids and not raising them in the way they should go.

And the rules? They just kept getting longer...

Modesty? check

Cuss Words? check (got that, mostly, under control when Keeli was little and she repeated something I said in front of our neighbors...it was embarrassing to say the least)

Early morning bible study?

Submissive wife?

Do not drink, at all, not even one, in public or at home-lest you want to make others stumble                                                                                                
check

check

check

The list goes on.
(these are all good things put in the right biblical perspective)

And then I started to notice something. If my church teaches love and grace and freedom through Jesus Christ, but doesn't live this out, is this really the place I want to be?

I wanted to be a part of a church that reaches out to someone that is hurting, not turn their backs and whisper, "they shouldn't have done this or that, and it wouldn't have happened."

I want a church that talks the talk and walks the walk. That doesn't have dress codes and a list of rules that they say is "biblical" but is really meant to keep the members in line so they don't embarrass the church.

Life and people aren't  black and white. People are different. Sometimes the church doesn't alway like different because how are they going to explain it?

If Jesus really came to set us free, then why do we try to chain ourselves back up to the law and claim it's freedom? 

"Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"?
These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence."( Col 2:20-23)

It's not and we are only fooling ourselves. It's ok to laugh and dance and have fun . When you're at church throw your hands up in wild abandon and don't care who sees (I'm personally still working on this one).

You're not dead yet!!!

Jesus came to give us life, an ABUNDANT life, a good life without fear.


The hurt need our love and our arms of grace to circle round and tell them it's ok.

Jesus came for the sick, poor, broken hearted and lowly; not the healthy, wealthy, and wise.

The church is made up of ugly hurtful sinners that have been saved, REDEEMED. But we are no better and no less than others.

People are hurting and as Christians we are called and have an obligation to serve/love them. We are all the least of these. May God forgive us for holding on so tight to our rules and fake facades.

The Grace-filled church is the Jesus-filled Church. It's the one that welcomes in the dirty, the cast out, the forgotten. It says, "I don't care what others think or what you've done, let me help you, let me be your friend."

The lost need our love not our sermons.

The Grace-filled church welcomes outsiders in and offers them a drink, even wine or a beer. There is no guilt here, there is no shame.

"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving."(1Tim 4:4)
The grace-filled church is one that welcomes the different because they are different too, but only by the blood of Christ. 

It's one I want my children to grow up in-not in a religious culture-but a come one come all we need you and you need us and we all need God!


God forgive me for all the times I've let other people's opinions matter more than what you've called me to be and do for the sake of others

At times I've cared more what the church thought than You.

My heart has been torn open and my eyes see what you see now. I can't go back. I won't. And if I can't find a grace-filled church, let me be church to those around me.

 Let me be grace-filled and runneth over.

Amen.

***The church is a much needed place for the lost and the found. It's not perfect and sometimes in error does more harm than good.  But, I  refuse to give up on the church, I need it too much. When done right the church is a place to go to be encouraged, nurtured, and be refilled with truth. There's no family like your church family. We need each other, we need YOU!
***

We've all had different experiences within the church some great some hurtful. Would you share about yours?

"Be the difference you want to see in the world."Ghandi






Linking bravely with Three Word Wed, #TellHisStory,Thought Provoking Thursday

22 comments :

  1. Great post!! I don't want to be the one that isn't giving grace to those around me!! God has given me so much of it!

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  2. My experience in the Church was a tough one! I was removed from my community because I chose to leave an abusive marriage. Rather than love me and help me find healing, I was "quietly put away" so they could save face. It's taking me awhile to trust community again, but I think I'm making progress. The stigma that comes with being imperfect and not following the "rules" is smothering. For a long time, I didn't want ANY community, but I think God has brought me to the place where I want to step out again. Praying I can find the right community.

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    1. I'm so sorry this happened to you Katie. I hope you will be able to find a safe community of believers, because when you do find one, they become your second family. God bless you.

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  3. don't you love thowing that wearisome checklist into the winds, Alecia ... and living in grace, love, peace. we have found the freedom to focus on what matters most at house church after 1/2 a century in the traditional church. i know i will look back to this season with great gratitude ...

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    1. YES!! Leaving that church I felt like I had truly been set free. I could see things more clearly and my relationship with God grew deeper. I saw him more as a loving Father than a critical rule maker.

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  4. Alecia,
    Yes, living in His Grace and for His approval, not for rules and others' approval...letting His Spirit guide ...blessings to you :)

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    1. Amen, Dolly! Here's to Freedom and Grace!

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  5. Yes! He is all we need! My husband and ! had a conversation very similar to this last night, so it is refreshing to read this as well! You have no idea:) Some of my dearest friends are so hemmed in by the rules (which are supposed to serve us- not us serving them, right?!) that I have had to refocus my relationships. So glad to read your post, seriously:)

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    1. I don't think you realize it when you're in the culture of it. I didn't. If someone messed up they were deemed as falling away or immature believers, not just human. Trying to be the "perfect"Christian is exhausting and something one can't maintain for very long. So glad you stopped by!

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  6. 'grace' is my word for the year....I need it and need to give it. I love what Ann V said, "Grace grabs the unworthy, redeems the unlikely, being Christ like is being grace filled. This is to be the church, the person I want to be. Praise Him for His grace extended, where would we be without it?

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  7. This is an amazing post!!!! I feel the Lord is showing us, the body of Christ, to really reach others it must be through love and grace. For us to become more like Christ. Thank you for sharing!! This really confirmed what the Lord has been speaking to me about :)
    Xoxoxo
    Stacey

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  8. I didn't realize that was your word,Marlece. Dontcha just love Ann V and her wisdom? Oh my how I need it.

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  9. Thanks Stacey! I always smile when I see your beautiful face pop up over here! :) Yes, love and grace is there any other way? We could try but it wouldn't have the same effect. Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. HI
    It is great to meet you. Thank you for commenting at Under the Cover of Prayer.
    Blessings
    Janis www.janiscox.com

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  11. "If Jesus really came to set us free, then why do we try to chain ourselves back up to the law and claim it's freedom?"
    You're spot-on. 2 years ago my husband and I changed churches, after almost 50 years each in the same denomination. But we had to escape legalism and find grace. And wow, have we! We love being uplifted every week with God's GRACE. It's made such a difference in our lives.

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    1. Love that verse, it's where the thought of this post originated from. How I wish some churches would wake up and see what they are doing. Where is the love and grace that Jesus talked so much about? I'm glad you and your husband found a new church home and are living out the freedom we are meant to!! Praise God!

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  12. Alecia, I'll be honest, I saw your post in my inbox today & when it mentioned "church" I was less than thrilled, and saved it for the very last email to open. Wow! You blew me away! What an INCREDIBLY written post. It's like you've been a fly on the wall in the numerous conversations I've had with my husband, my friends, my parents... you read my mind & heart!! I'm ashamed now that I dreaded reading this post (not because it's yours-but because of the topic!!)... your post ministered greatly to me. It's encouraging to know that there are others (like you) who see the hypocrisy in many of the churches today. It can be so discouraging. It's refreshing to hear your heart to want to BE the church. As the saying goes to some we are the only Jesus they ever see... It's a pretty big responsibility, yet a freeing one when we do it Jesus way, not any one church's way! :) THANK YOU for taking a risk and writing on this. I would have been scared to breech this topic, but you rocked it!! Looking forward to more of your posts on Grace. (Hoping you'll continue writing on ways WE can be the church. You do it so well!) :) xoxo ♥

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  13. lol, well I'm glad you gave it a chance :)Thank you for letting me know that it encouraged you. I went back and forth so many times about hitting publish but finally just did it. I'm glad I did! It's sad that the very word, "church" has put such a sour taste in people's mouths. I feel it's gone so far off course from what Jesus intended. But, we can be the church and we can be the difference we want to see in it!! That's encouraging!

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  14. Beautifully written, Alecia. I think this got my attention most..."We are all the least of these." Such truth. I try to always remember that.
    Much love to you,
    Beth

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  15. "I want a church that talks the talk and walks the walk."

    Me, too, Alecia. Let's be that. ^ ^ ^ ^

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  16. Alecia, thanks for linking up at Thought-Provoking Thursday last week! I am so thankful for God's grace.... Right now, I have a close friend who is hurting, and I have seen members of her church rise up and help her. This is how we extend God's grace to others -- we show up and we serve.

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