The Extent of Grace

Psalm 36:5–Your love, O Lord, reaches to the heavens, your faithfulness to the skies.

Lately, I have been considering the extent of God’s grace. A God who expresses his Covenant love to an Israel that is constantly desecrating their role as a chosen people by worshipping idols and intentionally turning away from truth.

Yet, he was faithful.

He is the God who, throughout history, has extended grace. From the first breath breathed into a human creation prone to disobedience, to the cross where sin and death were conquered, it was grace that was on his lips.

So as I consider an incredibly divisive topic in the church, it leads me to question how far, and wide, and deep the grace of God extends. It leads me to ask questions about salvation, truth, and Romans 10:9-10. It makes me wonder if there is salvation without submission to sanctification.

The topic is homosexuality–moreover, homosexual relationships.

I’ve spent the better part of this past school year delving into a book I would highly recommend called Generous Spaciousness. This book had challenged me about what it means to administer grace within the body of Christ and certainly has presented me with some necessary conviction.

Yet, even as I comb through the pages of such an intense book, even as I find myself learning more about grace, there is something that I find myself unwavering on.

Homosexual activity is sin.

And I don’t say this in a judgmental way. I say this in a way that submits to biblical truth. I’ve found scriptural that I cannot believe anything different.

But here is where I am wrestling.

Does God’s grace extend to those engaging in committed homosexual relationships?

Does he lovingly say, “my child, my dear,  my grace is sufficient for you even now,  for you have believed in your heart and confessed who I am, and I am your Lord” ?

Where does grace run out?

Or can it even?

I say this cautiously because I know that this is no small concern. My understanding of homosexuality as sin is enough to cause many to say I am filled with hate.

But even if you proclaim me an evil person, know that there is a God who loves you, a God who died to bring you into right relationship with him. Know that this God welcomes you just as you are and the ground is level at the foot of the cross.

With that being said there is grace…but grace is not what we strive for. Mercy is not what we strive for.

“It’s holiness that hurts the eyes.”

Grace and mercy are gifts freely given by God, so Paul does not pray that the churches may find themselves in more of God’s grace and mercy. He prays for their holiness.

May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.  May he strengthen your hearts so you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all the Holy ones. –1 Thessalonians 3:12-13

So maybe I am asking the wrong question when I ask how far his grace extends, for it is infinite; maybe I should ask how you, and I alike, can make holiness my aim.

As holiness was the pursuit of the Jew, so it is for the Christian.  The sanctifying power of the Spirit allows us to live lives worthy of Christ (1 Thes. 2:12) and the calling we have received (Eph. 4:1).

Still, we should be humble, gentle, and patient, bearing with one another in love (Eph 4:2).  For when we pursue holiness without first acknowledging the grace we have received, we easily become legalistic.

We must begin and end with the gospel, because God’s grace and mercy is the only way we can pursue holiness.

Whoever you are, I encourage you to wrestle with these difficult questions. Discuss. Let your speech be seasoned with salt. Watch documentaries or read books that might give you a new perspective.

For the Christian, you must not ignore, theology, ideology, or the tragedies of this world. You must actively engage this present world, history, and the spectrum of beliefs. You must get off of your judgment seat long enough to learn, understand, and love. Love relentlessly. Love because Christ has loved you first.

And realize my dear friend, that salvation is not yours to grant.

Walk with people. Hear their hearts. Know them. You do not have the right to be apathetic to another’s pain.

And if you find yourself at a juncture where you disagree, humble yourself.

And speak the truth in love.

But converse my dear friend.  Because it’s quite possible that no one cares what you know, until they know how much you care.

Remember that grace is sufficient in weakness. God is completely holy. Answers may not come easy, or be as precise as you’d hoped. And truth must be sought after.

Be gracious and kind. Just as God is gracious and kind.

May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. –1 Thessalonians 5:23-24

Amen.

-A World Changer (hopefully)

 

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