I have a good friend here in Houston named Jim Spivey who is always saying important things. He's not trying to be profound. In fact, he usually has a silly grin on his face. It's just that he has been undone by God's grace. And with that grace has come a radical rethinking of... everything.
All that to say, I really appreciate Jim's perspective.
His perspective has been redone by the reality Jesus speaks of when He says, "Whoever loses his life for Me will find it." It is only through our authentic death that we break into life that is authentically new. That process is not simply a theological statement Jim believes to be true. Jesus actually has done that to Jim. Has broken Jim. Killed Jim. And now Jim lives in a whole new reality of God's grace. That's why Jim KNOWS it is true. That's how Jim can trust the power grace has so completely. In the end he has found it is the ONLY thing that really works.
And now he has dedicated his life to helping others discover and live in this grace, too. Not just the theologically accurate grace we often (and should) proclaim from our pulpits. Not just the grace that gets us forgiven and gets us to Heaven. Grace starts with forgiveness and salvation. But it offers more.
Grace when allowed to have its full permeation into us offers transformation. It heals. It restores. It reconciles. This grace is hard, though. It is freely given. But it is hard to receive and believe this deeply because we are so used to shielding ourselves from how much and how deeply we still need grace. That's why grace goes this deep only as we are broken down. It is as we die to ourselves, as we come to the end of ourselves, that we eagerly drink deeply of who Jesus really is and what He is really offering us... and through us what He is offering to everyone.
And isn't that our mission? Graced to be Grace to others.
Saving grace, yes. But grace that, by the Spirit's power, continues to press in. Grace that is powerful not just because of what we say, but because of who we now have become through Him and His grace.
Safe Christians who are nicely churched seem to have less capacity for this. We want order. We want things to be behaved and neat. We get angry or worried if this is not happening. When the true nature of humanity rears up, we respond by wanting to "fix" people or pass laws to control people. But, in the end, BEING grace is the only thing that really works.
Imagine what would happen if each person of grace became grace to the people who need grace around them.
So, why do I choose to focus on the unique power of grace today?
Because the events of Newtown, Connecticut show how screwed up the world is and how far it is from grace.
That brings us back to Jim.
A couple days ago Jim shared a text conversation he had with a friend. It went like this:
Friend: "The world is on fire, people are divided and hateful, and it seems that we have fully succeeded in doing any terrorist group's mission to ourselves and one another. It is a pain- and fear-filled space in which there is little room for love."
Jim: "Untrue. Love prevails, always. I am evidence of that, and here I am."
Friend: "No argument there."
Jim: "And because of the persistence of the problem, you can notice and ask a new question. Instead of 'Why is the world so messed up?', while unconsciously being the answer to that question, you can ask, 'Where is there evidence of love?', and more consciously and consistently BE the answer."
Jim finished up by saying, "When we endlessly complain (or worry) about things, while doing nothing to make the world any different, we totally reveal ourselves and can often poison innocent others. And when we desperately try to "fix" things, we frustrate ourselves and can often hurt innocent others. By simply "being" the difference we want to see - boldly, consistently, and out in the open - and leaving others alone, free to make their own choices, we frequently inspire others and stand for them as encouragement and hope, calling forth their best."
See what I mean?
A profound understanding of the real power of grace vs. the power of our anger, worry or desire to "fix" people.
Be the change you seek.
In the end, it is the only thing that really works.
This is our mission.
P.S. Some of us who want to BE grace, will hesitate because we want do something important for others and, truth be told, do it perfectly. This quickly paralyzes us and inaction is the result. Here are a couple of quotes I have picked up over the years that may help you:
“It’s better to do something imperfectly than to do nothing flawlessly.”
“All the beautiful sentiments in the world weigh less than a single lovely action.”
“What you wish you could do for many do for one.”