I was at a recent sermon with my fiancee and mom about God’s grace. Kyle Idleman (author, “Not a Fan”; teaching pastor, Southeast Christian Church), discussed that grace is greater than our circumstances. A number of circumstances were named and the congregation was encouraged to raise their hands, rather than point fingers at those who have been through those circumstances. The sermon series is dubbed, “grace > _______”
“Grace is greater than my addiction. Grace is greater than my fear of dying,” he continues on through a list of various choices and circumstances that people have been thrust into. I found it refreshing that people were willing to raise their hands. Even more surprising, however, was the number of people who didn’t. I don’t know the names, but I have to say that a majority of the people simply did not raise their hands.
Nor did they point fingers. Kyle emotionally described the problem plaguing churches today: that people are persecuted because of their background, because of their circumstances, because of their past, who simply want to confess, who simply want to believe.
I came to understand why he was so upset when this verse was read aloud:
See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.
Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)
He also discussed how a certain person within a church wanted to expel a member from the congregation for his past. How a pregnant teen became the target for persecution within her own church. The hand raising exercise was to emphasize a point: that we are all here together and we have a choice. We can either accept what we are and admit that we too are imperfect, or we can point fingers at those who do and completely miss the point of experiencing grace.
“I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. They are so unlike your Christ,” said Ghandi. He is referring to those who quote the Bible with the quickest of recall, yet fail to follow Christ in even the most basic of regards. I know it can be hard. I struggle with keeping my finger firmly seated on the steering wheel when an aggressive driver tests my patience. Everything inside of me wants to change this. I only hope that anyone reading this will decide to treat everyone with love and respect, regardless of their church affiliation or circumstance.
Don’t point fingers. When you are weak; when you have sinned; when you confess; when you are tempted; when you are going through a rough time; when everything seems to go wrong; when you have wrongly judged someone; when your heart feels cold; when all hope seems lost, remember that God’s grace is greater. Raise your hand.