- Published: March 12, 2017 March 12, 2017
On Mondays, a group of women from both churches attend a book study using “A Grace-Full Life” by Jorge Acevedo and Wes Olds. I discovered it when I attended the Grace In Action Conference at their church, Grace Church (UM) in Cape Coral, Florida. In their book Olds and Acevedo explore God’s grace, His unmerited favor, which God presents through Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit.
John Wesley used different terms to understand God’s grace as it intersects with us at different stages of our spiritual journey. God approaches and “woos” us with prevenient grace, revealing love for us long before we acknowledge Him or give Him a place in our lives.
Where we live, in the evangelical south, we most often identify with God’s justifying grace. Christ offers us a relationship. When we accept His invitation we lose the shame and guilt for our sins, and are judged innocent in God’s perfect system of justice. Jesus, as He stands at the right hand of God our Father, claims us as His own and no memory of our sin exists in the mind of God! In being justified, we become children of God and siblings of Jesus Christ. This relationship makes all the difference, not only to us individually, but to the church, the community, and the world. However, we’ve lost our understanding of the relationship. Deceived by cultural norms and weak theology, many act as though justification is the end, when it could be best described as the “beginning.”
Sanctifying grace describes God’s grace in our relationship through the Holy Spirit. After accepting the invitation, we open ourselves to what God wants for us in this life! In the Lord’s prayer we hear, “Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” Not a call to duty, but a call to gratitude, our lives change through the relationship of the Spirit and we travel the path of holiness. This theology is far older than Methodism, existing long before the Wesley’s, holiness is the desire of God for our benefit. The love of God created an entrance via the sacrifice of Christ. The same love acts in us bringing the same love of God and others into the life we share now! We become the “body” of Christ in our time and place.
What now? We choose each day who we follow. We can follow our own well-worn path, the path of evil, or choose the road less traveled, the path of Jesus Christ. The first one is comfortable because we’ve been doing it for a while. The second comes as we leave the first, the path we think is “good” because we’ve decided our crimes against God are not as bad as some others, or we don’t believe God can or will help the individual. The path of Jesus comes as we seek to know, and do, the will of God each day. The is the path of surrender, the path of transformation! “Offer your bodies as a living sacrifice…be transformed by the renewal of your mind. (Romans 12:1-2 JHR)
In their exploration, Acevedo and Olds quote a former co-worker. Dick Wills. They speak of Wills’ teaching “that we needed to have an “up to date” faith. With great love he would say, “If you cannot tell me what God has been doing in your life for the last thirty days, I question whether you have a relationship with God.”
So, what has God been doing in your life in the last thirty days? When did you last start your day wanting God’s will instead of your own?
p.s. the fourth term, “glorifying” grace, we will get to at another time.