Pondering God’s Grace

By: Antipas Harris
Thursday, July 8th, 2010

This week is the twentieth anniversary of Calvary Revival Church in Norfolk, VA. Tuesday night John Bevere was the guest speaker. He taught on “God’s grace.” Interestingly, I am knee deep writing a book on “grace.” Wednesday night Stephen Hurd sang a new original song about “God’s grace.” I am doubly convinced that there is something about God’s grace pertinent for such a time as this– the contemperary church.

As a child being “rooted” in a church of the Spirit-filled (renewal) tradition, I observed and listened to sermons that spoke adamantly against certain lifestyles. These lifestyles included, but are not limited to, drug abuse, drug dealing, alcohol and tobacco addictions, homosexuality, sexual promiscuity (both heterosexual and homosexual), pornography, lying and the list goes on. My brother Norman Andronicus and I (the oldest brothers of eight siblings received a divine calling to ministry in our early teenage years. As we  grew into adulthood, committed our lives to the Lord and answered the call to the ministry, we became more directly involved with counseling and providing pastoral care and spiritual support to persons, both members of churches and beyond.

By our early twenties, we had counseled hundreds of people.  One thing of pervading concern  is hearing, on the one hand, powerful gospel preaching against persons involved in such lifestyles as sinners and, on the other hand, observing these persons profession to have committed their lives to the Lord (as a means of becoming accepted in the church community) while simultaneously struggling to overcome various addictions and lifestyles that the church condemns. Many Christians are hostile and condemning to people who struggle severely. All too many people are excluded from and hurt by the church. 

Have you ever felt, “oh no, I messed up!” or Oh no, I messed up AGAIN!”  There is no hope for me. Your experience of Church has been such that your mistakes have marked you as a “sinner for life.” So, you think that the church would never fully accept you? Or, maybe you have felt like the character of the girl with the “scarlet letter” on her chest in Nathanael Hawthorne’s “Scarlet Letter?” You struggle against internal feelings of self-hatred because of what you have done, your social location, your lack of educational accomplishments etc. Repetitive poor decisions force the thought: “I am sure God is tired of me by now.”  Or, internal regret and rolling eyes or slandering comments from religious, judgmental folk sometimes force us to the conclusion that maybe the church or even Christianity is not for you.

Well, most Christians of our experience would answer “yes” to feeling one of these ways (present company included) at some time or another.  Truth be told: most people struggle in their efforts to subscribe to perceived truth or “to do the right thing.” 

David Kinnaman wrote in his survey of outsiders of the church later published in the book UnChristian, “Nearly nine out of ten young outsiders (87 percent) said that the term judgmental accurately describes present-day Christianity.”[1]Sadly he found that, “young Christians between the ages of sixteen and twenty-nine (53 percent) said they believe that the label judgmental accurately fits present day Christianity.”[2]

The saddest thing that Kinnaman found was that, “an entire generation of those inside and outside the church are questioning our motives as Christians. They believe we are more interested in proving we are right than that God is right. They say Christians are more focused on condemning people than helping people become more like Jesus.”[3]  Nine out of ten nonbelievers do not recognize the church as a place of forgiveness.

In view of being judgmental as people say Christians are, forgiveness can be as we have seen a legal thing. The same could be said for a synonym of forgiveness, grace. So when someone says we are judgmental we are unforgiving or graceless.

Mike Foster founder of XXXChurch.com was quoted as saying, “I am not sure how it happened exactly, but it seems that grace, which is Christianity’s most core issue, is struggling to survive…the church has seriously lost its way on this issue.”[4] I would like to challenge us to re-discover God’s amazing grace!

In your theology and in your life, have you discovered God’s grace? How do you understand God’s grace?

In my life, God’s grace is the ever empowering presence of God. Grace is teacher. Grace is God’s protection. Grace matters!

[1] David Kinnaman, UnChristian (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2007), 182.

[2] Ibid., 183.

[3] Ibid., 184.

[4] Ibid., 201.


Antipas Harris
This entry was posted by on Thursday, July 8th, 2010 at 2:00 am and is filed under Church Ministry, Renewal Studies, Theology, Urban Renewal. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

2 Responses to “Pondering God’s Grace”

  1. Good article,thank you for this.

  2. Alexandra Getchius says:

    I am so grateful for your blog article.Thanks Again. Really Great.