There are many church signs with cute sayings. There are many with profound sayings, some with ones that are witty and some that show great creativity. Then there are those that are offensive or just downright rude, like the one I saw while taking my daughter to school this week.
What was on the sign? “If Christmas offends you than go to Thailand for 30 days. They don’t like it there either. Grow up or shut up.” I don’t really know why poor Thailand was singled out, as far as I know they have never gone out of their way to ruin anyone’s Christmas in south Georgia, but what bothers me is the attitude portrayed in the sign from a church with the word “grace” in their name.
The unsaved are not the enemy. They are our mission. To unnecessarily offend them makes it ten times as hard to witness to them of God’s love. Christmas is God showing love to man by coming down and becoming one of us. It was for dirty, sinful, lost mankind that He came, not for the smug religious crowd. As a minister, this sign offends me. It also offends the unchurched in our community.
Wouldn’t it be better to hold a community party to celebrate Jesus’ birth? Maybe they could be proactive and do a food drive or help gather presents for the poor that would show God’s love in action instead of belittling those who have not yet experienced the grace of God. Come on church, live up to your name — show grace, the giving of a gift to someone undeserving of it this holiday season instead of being snarky and strident. Telling a large segment of your community to “Grow up or shut up” simply shows them how childish and immature you are. Why would they come to your church for answers when their life falls apart?
Lost people act lost because they are spiritually blind and without hope. They are spiritually dead and incapable of acting any other way than what they do. So-called Christians acting the way this church did just shows stupidity. I know that is harsh but it is true. The sign may play well to the frozen chosen inside her walls but it embarrasses those of us going out and meeting people in the marketplace and introducing them to a Jesus who offers grace, mercy and new life. I truly wish that this church would grow up and until that happens, please – shut up so the rest of us can give a message of hope to our town. It desperately needs it.
We have had many people tell us how proud of us they are that we became adoptive parents. There are so many children in the foster care system that need a good, loving, Christian home to be raised in that it is a shameful reminder that the Christian church has largely failed to address this issue. Be that as it may, I have yet to run into anyone who has chastised our family for only adopting one child when there are so many at risk. We certainly could not have adopted all the children in our state, much less the country or the world, but we could have, possibly, adopted at least one more. Does this make us horrible people, to only adopt one? Does this make us sinful, when it was in our power to affect, at least theoretically, one more life? Are we to be commended because, by our free choice, we adopted one or castigated because of our free choice not to adopt more than one?
Why am I asking these questions? Because many people object to the thought of God adopting some people to become members of His family and not everyone. The doctrine is called election and the Bible speaks of God electing some to salvation and not electing others, leaving them to their fate. Is God to be commended for saving some people, by His own free will, from an eternity without Him or is He to be castigated for not saving more or all? Your answer tells what you truly think of God — a wonderful Being that did not have to save anyone yet did or a horrible monster who didn’t save all. Or, perhaps, a willing but unable Deity who desires salvation for mankind but cannot effectively bring it about and depends on us to do what He can’t. There really isn’t any other way to look at it.
The same people who champion the freedom of the human will to accept or reject God do not seem to be willing to give God the free will to accept or reject man. The double standard screams out. People want the freedom to choose but not to give God the same right. It is not as if our Creator owes us anything. He is not beholden to us, we are to Him because all we are is His. In Him we live, breathe and have our existence. We are His creation, for His glory, a glory He will not share with any other.
I get amused at those who want the freedom to choose salvation but the guarantee that the choice cannot be taken back. A salvation dependent on the choice of man but secured by the power of the Savior. I believe in a salvation dependent on a powerful Savior who can and will keep my soul secure. A salvation given by grace because God decided to adopt me into His family like I adopted a little girl into mine. Not because of anything she had done or might possibly do but because I was filled with love toward her. God saved me not because of anything I did or might possibly do for Him but by His love and grace. My hope is built on nothing less than the grace of God my Savior, secured by the blood and righteousness of Jesus and the sealing of my spirit by the Holy Spirit.
DAY 13 – AMAZING GRACE
I find it ironic that almost everyone sings a version of Amazing Grace. Just perusing music sites, it seems every star has released a version of this song at one time or another, even though most of those people have never experienced God’s saving grace.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear.
To fear God is the beginning of wisdom. Fear of His just punishment for sin. When I reflected on John 3:17-18, it made John 3:16 come alive. I was already condemned and facing eternal punishment.
And grace my fears relieved.
God’s grace, given to me when I turned my life over to His Son’s Lordship, granted to me eternal life. There is now no condemnation for I am safely in the family of God. So precious, that grace given the hour, the very second I first believed.
Upon hearing the call of God, our Shepherd, here in this world, we will experience His reality face to face in the next. His word, His promises, secures our hope for an eternity with Him in heaven.
Unless a person has experienced God’s saving grace, they really have no idea what this song is about. Far from just being a good hymn, it hammers home to us that our only hope is to be found in Christ alone.
Lord, Your grace is totally amazing. That You could extend grace and mercy to us just completely overwhelms me. You, the perfect, holy Creator of the Universe, extending grace to one such as myself, selfish, arrogant, sinful is simply … amazing.
Thank you for saving me by Your grace and extending to me the faith necessary to believe.
AMAZING GRACE by John Newton
Amazing grace how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost but now am found
Was blind but now I see
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far
And grace will lead me home
The Lord has promised good to me
His word my hope secures
He will my shield and portion be
As long as life endures
Yea when this flesh and heart shall fail
And mortal life shall cease
I shall possess within the veil
A life of joy and peace
The world shall soon dissolve like snow
The sun refuse to shine
But God who called me here below
Shall be forever mine
When we’ve been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise
Than when we’ve first begun