Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Christianity's Greatest Gift

He lit up a cigarette in the parking lot after church and while he seemed oblivious to the stares of congregants leaving Sunday services, I was not. I knew what they were thinking and felt angry for him.

Did they know how far he'd come? Did they stop to look beyond the stick of nicotine hanging from his lips? Could they see his heart, his desire to be better, his own gracious spirit?

Some thought nothing, but some saw a guy smoking in the church parking lot and raised eyebrows at each other as they passed.

“Grace is Christianity’s best gift to the world, a spiritual nova in our midst exerting a force stronger than vengeance, stronger than racism, stronger than hate. Sadly, to a world desperate for this grace the church sometimes presents one more form of ungrace.”

by Philip Yancey
What’s So Amazing About Grace?

How do we put aside our notions of what is spiritually acceptable? How can we see others as Jesus does? Why is it so easy to overlook our own sin--disrespectful attitudes, impatience, gossip, selfishness--and judge those whose weaknesses are more visible?

In his commentary series on the Bible, theologian J. Vernon McGee tells the story of an audience member who took issue with him smoking a cigar.

"THAT sir," said the rotund gentlemen pointing to Mr. McGee's cigar, "offends me."

"And THAT sir," replied J. Vernon poking a finger into the man's belly, "offends me."

We all have sin issues. We all struggle with weaknesses. Isn't it time to stop pointing fingers and start holding each other up? What good does it do to look down our noses?

Grace is Christianity's best gift to the world . . .

Let's give it.

Join Patricia at Typing One-Handed for more thoughts on this quote.


Cin said...

To walk with the grace God gives us and is tripled when we give to others.
Great words and great images, Tami.

Lisa Maria said...

What a great post Tami! I was just reflecting on something similar the other day. Man judges the external.. God judges us by our hearts. Thanks for a great reminder!

Love & Blessings

Jana Banana said...

Thanks for this post--you could probably repost this one weekly and it would always be well-timed! :)

On our way home from swimming yesterday I saw a sign next to a church that said, "Instead of pointing a finger, offer a helping hand." Your post reminded me of that--and I love both.

Thanks!! :)

Carol said...

"We all have sin issues" . . . Yes, it is true of all of us.

So many people are hurting--carry baggage from the past. They may be beginning a relationship with the Lord at different starting points--they need support and loving kindness.

As believers and church members we need to have grace in relating with each other. Then we can encourage.


Karen said...

Boy that is the truth. We spend to much time pointing our fingers at others that we miss out on the one who needs the most work, US!