Take a deep breath.
Do it again.
That was for me, not for you, because the subject that’s on my mind gives me high blood pressure.
Let’s Unpack Grace.
More specifically: God’s grace.
I believe it is simultaneously one of the most abused and underused gifts of God.
It is abused because it doesn’t cover sin. It does cover sin we have repented of, but I don’t believe that it covers sin we are actively, unrepentantly living in.
It is underused because we often repent of our sin but continue to carry the shame of this sin, rather then recognizing that through the grace of God, it is fully covered and paid for, by the blood of the lamb.
It is abused because we allow professing christians to live in unrepentant sin (sins that the Bible calls out as sin) and call it grace and love.
It is underused because we verbally assault people simply because disagree with their actions, choices or opinions (actions that the Bible isn’t clear on, one way or another.
What’s your gift?
I’m in no way or means a pro Bible interpreter so bare with me here but this my interpretation of Ephesians 4:
4 1-3 In light of all this, here’s what I want you to do. While I’m locked up here, a prisoner for the Master, I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run!—on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.
4-6 You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.
7-13 But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift. The text for this is,
He climbed the high mountain,
He captured the enemy and seized the plunder,
He handed it all out in gifts to the people.
Is it not true that the One who climbed up also climbed down, down to the valley of earth? And the One who climbed down is the One who climbed back up, up to highest heaven. He handed out gifts above and below, filled heaven with his gifts, filled earth with his gifts. He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
14-16 No prolonged infancies among us, please. We’ll not tolerate babes in the woods, small children who are easy prey for predators. God wants us to grow up, to know the whole truth and tell it in love—like Christ in everything. We take our lead from Christ, who is the source of everything we do. He keeps us in step with each other. His very breath and blood flow through us, nourishing us so that we will grow up healthy in God, robust in love.
There is much more to unpack here then I’m capable of covering in one blog so if you’re interested, go pick it apart some more.
The first couple verses tell us to walk in what God has called us to do, it also gives instruction/direction on how to do that.
This next part really gets me though… and it seems to me we’ve missed this point…
But that doesn’t mean you should all look and speak and act the same. Out of the generosity of Christ, each of us is given his own gift.
Did u notice the part where we’re supposed to have varying opinions?
Ok, so it doesn’t say exactly that but still.
He handed out gifts of apostle, prophet, evangelist, and pastor-teacher to train Christ’s followers in skilled servant work, working within Christ’s body, the church, until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ.
He gave us different gifts (it is my opinion that every single believer has one of these gifts, although they might not actually use it in a church setting.)
In other words, you can have a pastor’s heart in how you respond to people but you might not actually be a pastor. Make sense?
The gifts explained:
Apostle: Identifies sin, strongholds etc and pushes back. The apostle actively takes back ground that the devil is currently in possession of.
When the apostle recognizes sin, injustices etc. his reaction is to fight back.
Prophet: Calls out truth. The prophet can usually clearly see the difference between good and evil.
When the prophet recognizes sin, injustices etc. his reaction is usually to call out sin and promote the truth. This is often done passionately because they can clearly see things that most people are confused about.
Teacher: Teaches the truth. The teacher usually has a strong desire to eradicate misuse of scripture and to interpret it correctly.
In all honesty, I’m not entirely clear on the teachers role but i picture them as more mild tempered. As in… I’m ready to show you the truth whenever you’re ready.
Pastor: Stewards the hearts of the people. The pastor takes care of people. They serve, meet needs and make people feel valued.
The pastor goes after the heart of the people. He is often less concerned about sin and more concerned about reaching the heart of each individual person.
The evangelist. Brings the lost to Christ. The evangelist’s sole desire is to preach the gospel and see as many people as possible be brought into the kingdom.
The evangelist, like the pastor, is less focused on sin and more on the hearts of each person. To see the lost come home is their main focus.
As the above passage goes on to say… we are all called to walk in OUR OWN gift until we (the church) are all moving rhythmically and easily with each other.
It’s quite simple really…
We should probably all take a deep breath, take a step back, take a look outside of our own perspective and encourage each person to walk in their gift.
This looks like:
Allowing Apostles to take the front line, to push back against the enemy and take back stolen ground.
Allowing Prophets to be the gatekeeper, bringing truth in and keeping the lies out.
If the apostle is fighting the battle and the prophet is guarding the door, the pastor is now free to minister to the hearts of the people without being concerned about enemy attacks.
I see the teacher working along side the pastor bringing truth into the lies that we’ve gathered along the way.
Meanwhile the evangelist is also protected by the apostle and prophet and is free to simply gather lost souls which he then delivers to the pastor and teacher for farther deliverance, discipleship and whatever else they need.
Do you see how it all flows together if we abolish the lie that we all need to have the same opinion on what needs to be done or how things need to be handled?
The final verses tell us that if we accomplish the feat of accepting each other’s different opinions and ways of handling a situation and above all, stay focused on Christ, we’ll ‘be healthy in God and robust in love’
I would also like to point out that each person needs to learn how to walk in the gift God has given them.
Have you ever compared a first graders handwriting with that of an 8th grader? There’s a pretty big difference.
In my opinion walking out your gift looks much the same. A younger christian, like the first grader, will have a smudged paper with many erases, restarts, some letters on the line with others falling off the paper. It’s messy. But if God is invited into the mess, he will simply teach, correct and lead and slowly but surely we will walk in our gift much more gracefully.
Side note: We won’t make it to graceful grade 8 of our gifts until we complete messy grade one.
So with all that in mind…
What if we stood together and encouraged each other?
What if we offered each other the same grace that God offered to us?