Reveal the Encounter Issue 12: Punishment and Potential

What is the message of Grace?

I think many of us would immediately think of John 3:16, “For God so love us, that He sent His one and only Son, that who shall believe in Him shall have eternal life.”  We have often hear the sermon or message preached that we are sinners in need of a Savior, that Jesus had to come to die on the cross so that we could be forgiven and have eternal life.

But what if there’s so much more to that message of Grace?

What if there’s more to the message than just a story about people who messed up so bad that they needed a Savior to take their punishment?
What if it’s more than avoiding punishment?
What if our churches and believers knew that it was more than just avoiding punishment?
What if the rest of the world heard more than just about how big of screw ups we are?

My wife and I haven’t been able to get enough of the song, “I Speak Jesus”.  Some of the lyrics go something like this:
I just want to speak the name of Jesus
Till every dark addiction starts to break
Declaring there is hope and there is freedom
I speak Jesus

‘Cause your name is power
Your name is healing
Your name is life
Break every stronghold
Shine through the shadows
Burn like a fire

I just want to speak the name of Jesus
Over and all anxiety
To every soul held captive by depression
I speak Jesus

Your name is power
Your name is healing
Your name is life…

You may be wondering where I’m going with this.  You may even be questioning it because , yes, there is a part of this message of Grace that required Jesus to die on a cross.  The problem I believe we have in the world and Church today is that this message can became focused on avoiding punishment and not claiming our birthright.  I believe there are two major parts of the message of Grace that we need to make sure to talk about.

1) Having someone paying a price for something when we don’t deserve it.
2) Restoring Created value and purpose to people who don’t think they deserve it and don't ask for it.

Now, theologically there is a lot more to this message of Grace but I think if you had to summarize it, this could be a basic summarization.  Making sure to understand the message of Grace has been on my heart lately.  I grew up in the church and I always heard the message that I need to be saved from all of this so that I can go somewhere better when I die.  Yes, He loved us so much but that love wanted more for us than to just avoid some punishment.  I have never had anyone in the Church sit down and look at me and tell me that God saved me because He saw value and potential in me.  In fact, God saw so much value and potential in me that He broke my bondage to darkness and invited me to participate in an incredible mission of helping care for and save more of His Creation and He invites you too!

I think there’s a reason why so many in this world don’t want to hear the message we have or receive the gift God wants to give them.  So many in this world only hear how bad of a failure they are.  Have you ever been made to feel like you screwed up so bad that there was no redemption or that you didn’t want anything to do with the individuals that helped make you feel that way?  Someone can still be made to feel like they are worthless even though they were loved so much that they are saved from punishment.  God's love has such a more beautiful and fuller understanding than avoiding punishment.  But what if we are saved for a reason greater than avoiding punishment?  God could have wiped us off the face of the Earth but He still sees value in something He called Very Good.  Remember, God wants to restore and resurrect His Creation.  You see, I think the message of Grace is about what God wants for, desires for and sees us capable of doing and not just about the need to be saved from deserved punishment.

What would happen to this world if the Church started looking at the value in people as God does and then trying to help them achieve that value?  
What would happen if we invested so heavily in the success of people that they actually could see in themselves what God sees in them?
How would the mission of the Church change?
Would people begin to see a true glimpse of the Kingdom of God?

I believe that we will begin to see the mission the Church change and become more effective.  We would see missional activities being about helping others achieve Divinely Created Potential.  We would see missional activities be more effective.  We would see more people involved in the mission because they would realize why God saved them and they would want others to experience the same love, hope and potential they have.  Yes, Jesus had to die on the cross to make a way possible but the way was all about restoring us to our created purpose, not about avoiding punishment.  Are we going to avoid punishment?  I sure hope so, but I don’t think that was the main point.

I say all of this to say, let’s help point people to truth, the truth of God and the truth of who they were created to be.  Let’s start seeing things for what they can be and not what they were.  Let’s be a people of redemption and not punishment.  Let’s love people because they are worth something to God and us, not because we were told too.  Let’s join in the mission of helping Restore  Creation.

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