represent God to people and people
to God, seems foreign and puzzling
And here’s my concern. Dear
Church, for the most part the whole
system is designed to perpetuate
this. When I look around the room,
I see little that invites or requires
my participation. I simply watch
because that’s about the only thing
left to me.
Yet isn’t every believer’s priesthood the key to a thriving church?
Isn’t this at the heart of robust
worship, evangelism, service and
teaching – the whole life of discipleship? To know and believe and
live out the truth God has put
within us, each and all and altogether, the power that raised Jesus
from the dead and seated Him at
God’s right hand?
This power is available – abundantly, exceedingly, more than we
can ask or imagine – to all believers,
from least to greatest, male and
female, young and old, rich and
poor, from every tribe and tongue
and nation. And this power empowers all. It fuels the entire thing
we call church.
But looking around the room,
I’m not sure anyone believes it. Or,
if we do, that we’re inclined to do
much about it. Few ask or expect us
to act in priestly wisdom and authority. My plea, Dear Church, is
that you change that.
My plea is that you ask us to pray,
with fresh hunger and faith, Paul’s
prayer for the Ephesian believers,
that the eyes of our hearts would be
opened so we would see – and live
out – the hope to which we have
been called, and know the riches of
God’s glorious inheritance in the
saints – in us!
nd I’m thinking about
grace. Grace abounds
everywhere, even – espe-
cially – where sin is
thickest. But the Church is the one
place on earth where the abun-
dance of grace, its wild and varied
profusion, its sheer crazy lavish-
ness, is meant to be tangible, vis-
ceral and viral. It’s meant to over-
whelm us, every time. It’s meant to
be as real and intimate as the open
arms of God.
The Apostle Paul, trying to collect an offering from the Corinthians, doesn’t resort to shame, guilt
and threat. He reminds them of
grace – the grace of a dirt-poor but
ridiculously generous church in
Macedonia, and especially the
grace of Jesus, who became poor so
they might become rich.
They were all beggars until the
richest man ever showed up, and
cashed out and gave them the
Paul awakens their memory and
their experience of this. He knows
that when any of us bask in the
extravagance of grace, it changes
us. Fools become wise. The angry
become peaceful. Tightwads break
open like piñatas and spill riches.
Older brothers join the party and
dance wild jigs.
Frankly, literally, I don’t have it in
me to be nice or good, not in a deep,
real, lasting way. I can do it in spurts
and patches, but to be a vessel and
channel of goodness I need grace
– amazing grace, abounding grace,
grace for my failings, grace to overcome, grace to fill the vast gap between the man I am and the man
And I don’t have it in me to wres-
tle sin to the ground, to say no to
ungodliness, to live the victorious
life. I need amazing, abounding
grace for all this.
I’m simply pleading, Dear
Church, that you never let a week
go by without telling us this good
Good News all over again.
nd I’m thinking about
heaven. I’m thinking about
how little I hear about it in
church. This is a significant change from past times. I don’t
think it’s for the better.
Maybe once we talked too much
about heaven, and the talk made us
passive about hellish things on
earth – girls and women and boys
and men exploited in the sex trade
and the porn industry, rampant
and easily preventable global disease and hunger, the plundering of
Maybe talk of heaven was the
opiate of the people, to quote Karl
Marx, numbing us into complacency, conformity, apathy. Maybe
some people were too heavenly
minded to be of any earthly good.
But aren’t we seeing the exact
reverse of this now? Most of us so
earthly minded, we’re of no use to
heaven or earth?
We think about how to make our
houses even better, and most of
them are things of rare beauty already. We think about how to make
our kids smarter, our marriages
sexier, our vacations more exotic.
And thinking on these things so
much, we’re mostly anxious and
often depressed. We keep suc-
THE CHURCH IS WHERE THE ABUNDANCE
OF GRACE, ITS WILD AND VARIED
PROFUSION, ITS SHEER CRAZY
LAVISHNESS, IS MEANT TO BE TANGIBLE,
VISCERAL AND VIRAL.