|Good morning everyone,|
Our theme for this month: “Christian community”
Our Bible verse for today: “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” Matthew 5:7 (CSB)
Our thought for today: “What kind of Christian community are we?”
One of my favorite Bible studies is “What’s So Amazing About Grace?” by Philip Yancey. It’s certainly on my “Top Five” list. In it, Yancey leads us through a thoughtful and insightful study of what grace is, and what it looks like in actual practice. And although he provides many touching and positive examples of grace in action, for contrast he also includes examples of what he terms “ungrace” – acts that are the antithesis of grace. And usually those acts of ungrace are carried out by self-righteous, misguided, and sometimes even mean-spirited professing Christians.
I recently read the story of Paula Ilari, a young woman who found herself pregnant because of a brutal gang rape. After much prayer, Paula decided to carry the baby to term and to keep the child rather than giving him up for adoption. She believed that was the God-honoring choice, and she expected her church family to support her.
Sadly, at that time she was attending a church that was very liberal. When Paula confided in a trusted friend and staff member at her church that she was pregnant by rape, she was shocked that the woman insisted she get an abortion. When Paula declined, the friend/staff member withdrew her friendship and even enlisted other women in the church to try to convince her that she had to get an abortion. They said there was no way she could or should give birth to that baby. One person (Christian?) even referred to the child in Paula’s womb as “the spawn of Satan.” At one point a group of women invited Paula to what was promoted as a “baby shower,” only to discover it was a group intervention designed to try one last time to convince her to get an abortion.
There’s a lot more ugliness in that story, but I think you have a sense of what Paula went through. Fortunately, she eventually left that church, kept her baby, married a good Christian man who loves both her and her child, and she is now part of a good, encouraging, grace-filled church family.
The situation with Paula is extreme, and it was carried out by ungracious Christians with a very liberal worldview. But I could easily cite numerous other examples of ungrace carried out by both liberal and conservative Christians across the theological spectrum.
My question for us today is, “What kind of Christian community are we?” Does grace or ungrace better describe you and your church? Jesus was gracious and graceful. He was kind and compassionate. He was truthful and direct with people as needed, but the only time we read of Him being harsh was when he was dealing with religious hypocrites, never with lost, hurting, or traumatized people. Jesus was gracious and therefore, as His disciples, we Christians should be gracious too.
What kind of Christian community are we? I say, let’s be known for grace.
(Join us at Oak Hill Baptist Church every Sunday at 10:00. Join us in-person if you are nearby or, if you are geographically distant or a shut-in, join us online at www.YouTube.com/oakhillbaptistcrossville)
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