Grace: What is It?

* Grace is the Gift of Love that you didn’t Purchase and you didn’t earn.

* Gift - Not something you bought, not something you expected, not your paycheck, it’s simply a gift.

* Purchase - You didn’t save up money to get it. You didn’t buy it,

* Earn - And you didn’t work for it. In fact you really weren’t expecting it. But it showed up in your life.

 

* Grace is:

* 1. A gift Jesus gave…

* 2. A gift Jesus wants us to give…

* As we talk about Grace, it’s hard not to talk about Jesus. Because one of his disciples John, tells us that Jesus was full of grace.

* John 13:34-35 - 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

* 1. Grace is a gift Jesus gave…

* Tension - Jesus’ love was unfair, messy, inconsistent, confusing. The tension is in the way that he loved.

* Set up story of Adulterous Woman

* John watched this -

* John 8:7 “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” -

* Wait Jesus, I thought you were all about love? Jesus was full of truth, he simply didn’t let truth keep him from giving the gift of grace.

* And he said, ok, you want to stone her go for it, but let the person who is without sin throw the first stone.

* The person who’s never lusted, you throw first.

* The person who’s never sinned in their lives, you throw first.

* The person who thinks I would never do that, you throw.

* John 8:8-11 - 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground. 9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11“No one, sir,” she said. “Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin.”

* Jesus was full of grace. Here’s where the tension lies: how can one be full of truth and grace. How could Jesus speak the truth to her, but still in the end say, “I do not condemn you.” Jesus felt the tension of being full of truth and grace. He balanced the two.

* The Religious Elite only spoke truth. You want to sin, we’ll wait until we can catch you red handed in your sin, then drag you naked and in your shame through the streets and toss you right in the middle of the public square. Then we’ll throw our stones at you. They only knew truth.

* But Jesus he balanced the truth with grace. He didn’t deny her sin, or say she wasn’t guilty. He just said, “I don’t condemn you, leave your life of sin.”

* There are those of you here today:

* Afraid to step foot in a church, because you’ve only known condemnation. You’re experience of the church is a place of shame, a place of embarrassment, a place where everyone lines up with their stones ready to cast down at you.

* But Jesus, built the church, not man. And Jesus says, “I don’t condemn you.”

* I dream that the church will one day be the center of life in the community. The place where the condemned run to, not away from. The place where we say, “If Jesus didn’t condemn you, then neither do we.”

* Grace is a gift that Jesus gives to you.

* Luke tells us another story of Jesus’ gift of grace.

* Luke 23:42-43 - 42Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” 43Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”

* But Jesus, he hasn’t been baptized. Today, you’re with me.

* But Jesus, he didn’t go through membership class. Today, you’re with me.

* But Jesus, he lived his whole life for sin. Today you’re with me.

* Jesus looks right into your situation and gives you the gift of grace if you’ll just accept it.

 

* Romans 5:8 - But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

* Jesus said:

* I don’t care if they never accept my love, I still love

* They may be so lost in their sin that they could never break loose, but I still love

* They may have one day destroyed their lives, destroyed their families, but I still love.

* Because of Jesus’ grace our past does not define our identity.

* The gift that Jesus gives is love unconditionally, that’s messy, and that at times is confusing.

* But that’s why you’re here today, not by your works, or because you’re a perfect person, but because Jesus gave you a gift.

* He loved you when you were unlovable.

* He gave to you when you didn’t deserve one.

* He offered you something when you had no way to repay him.

* He said, “I don’t condemn you, go and sin no more.”

2. Grace is a gift Jesus wants you to give…

* John 13:34-35 - 34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

* By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.

* Of course we love each other, we put up with each other.

* But here’s where the tension lies for Christians -

* Love one another. As I have loved you,

* See, Jesus I can love, but I don’t know if I can love like you did.

* This is a little different. This is a little more difficult.

* So how do we give Grace, The gift of Love?

* Come and See - John tells us about Andrew - Andrew runs to his brother Peter and says, “We’ve found the Messiah” come and see -

* Andrew extended the invitation to his brother to come and be introduced to Jesus.

* I want to be a Come and See church. I want to be a Community that walks to our neighbor’s house and invites them to Come and See. Come and meet Jesus who has changed my life. See my life was in shambles, but then Jesus changed me. I joined a community of people who follow Jesus. Come and See.

* You and I walking out into the world could be the only time someone encounters Jesus. Through you.

* We Become a Come and Be With me Church.

* Each one of the writers Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John give us the story of how Jesus invited the disciples to Come and Be with Him.

* Each one of those stories goes something like this: The disciples are minding their own business. They are just living their lives. Nothing too special. Many of them were fishermen. And then One day Jesus walked up to them and said, “Follow Me.” Come and be with Me.

* But Jesus these guys didn’t know anything about you. They will, eventually.

* But Jesus these guys are messed up, I mean Peter’s got anger issues, Matthew is a tax Collector, and Judas is stealing. Come and Be With Me.

* But Jesus these guys are far from God. Come and Be With Me.

* And you know what happened as they Followed Jesus. Eventually, they moved closer and closer to God.

* Grace is inviting people to come and be with us who are far from Him.

* Grace is accepting people who we’re not 100% sure if they’re even saved. Grace is saying, Come and Be with Me, because we never invite them to be with us, how can we expect them to ever find Jesus?

* Grace is bringing people to the Community of God.

* We’re here for the sick -

* One day Jesus, was hanging out with Tax Collectors and Sinners. And the Pharisees happened to be walking by the house and said, “What’s he doing hanging out with sinners?”

* Then Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but the sinners.”

* Grace can only be given to someone who hasn’t received it. The righteous, the ones who are in church, the ones following Jesus. Us. We know what grace is, we’ve received the gift. And a lot of times we simply try to offer the gift of acceptance and love to those who already have it. But Jesus didn’t come to give it to all

those who had it, he went out into the world to the places nobody was reaching and gave the gift of love.

* Our Mission is to connect people to God. But I think many times, we simply try to connect the people who are already connected to God.

* When we can move into the areas of our community that have been shut out. Those who have been told we don’t want you. Those who don’t know what grace is. And when we can go into those areas and say, “I accept you. I love you. I’m for you. Come with me.” That’s when we’ll change the city.

* The world doesn’t need more condemnation. They need to hear, that even though you’re wrapped up in sin and far away from God, Jesus died so that you don’t have to stay far away from God, but you can experience Grace. Come with me.

* You know what makes me cry, that we live in a city where 1,000’s of people are unchurched. We pass by 1,000’s of people every day who have never heard of Jesus. We come in contact with people every day who’ve left the church. That’s what breaks my heart.

* I can see a church that passionately gets behind Jesus and gets into the mess of our city, walks into broken situations and says, I’ll get in the mess with you and together we’ll find Jesus.

* But I’m worried about guilt by association. What will people think? Listen if Jesus was worried about guilt by association he never would have left heaven.

* How will we win the next generation - not by lecturing them, but by showing them grace through love.

* “By this, all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

* Imagine -

* Imagine, if the church believed this about grace. Imagine if just the church, bought into this. Imagine if we were known by how much we love. Not about anything else. Can you imagine a city that says, there’s that church, there a little crazy but my goodness have you seen how they care for our community.

* Why’s the parking lot always filled, because I’ve never seen a group of people who love like them.

* There’s Wincog again, man I don’t know what to think about them, but man I’d love to hire someone who attends there, because have you seen how they love?

We get this right, we love the city even the unloveable parts. There won’t be enough building or services that can hold all the people who would walk through these doors. Imagine how many people we could bring to Jesus, just with the way we show love to the community.