I’ve been talking a lot about boundedness lately on Sundays because, frankly, I’m tired of the division that’s ensued over the past few years within the Church and, even, within our church. My hope is for us to arrive at a way that can see past our positions, wherever they may lie, and be joined in our conviction that Jesus matters over everything. It’s no small task, I’m aware, and certainly even naive to think it can be done at all, and yet we believe it speaks to the heart of Jesus for his people and the Church.
A few Sundays back, our community look at how grace is the glue that will help us transcend lines and stay connected as a family in Jesus. Mark Baker writes, “To live in the grace of Christ is to commune together as a group of people freed from bounded group practices of including some and not others based on earthly measures or worth.” To live in grace is to accept what Paul, and Luther, pushed so hard: that our works have no bearing on our belonging, no value on our worth, no value on our acceptance; that it is grace and only grace that brings us to God. I love that this is so pronounced throughout the New Testament as it is such a powerful pushback against us being able to act as if our social justice actions, our position on vaccines, our generosity to the poor, our “correct beliefs,” our church attendance, or literally any other “earthly measure” can be used to justify pitting each other against one another, elevating us over each other or othering one another in any form.
How might this work, practically? Without grace, we’re left with our own devices to establish a sense of identity, a sense of acceptance, etc. So we draw lines about all the things – from doctrine to ethnicity, denomination to socioeconomic status and everything in between. You name it, we can justify categorizing and othering each other “in the name of Jesus” and we’re really, really good at it – in fact, I daresay it comes naturally to most of us. And so when grace, or “the mercy of Christ” (Gal. 1:6) as Paul says, is properly understood as it is intended to, it shuts us up. It stops us in our tracks. It vanquishes any of our efforts to divide and deem as worthy or unworthy and proclaims “It’s not your accomplishments… it’s Jesus'”
As Grassroots moves into adopting a paradigm of disagreeing well as a community, my hope is we’ll keep at the centre an understanding of the preeminence of God’s grace in all of this. In any and all interactions with one another, may we learn to operate from a position of keeping God’s grace as the foundation. Doing so will keep us from elevating ourselves… or our group…. or our position…. or our worth over another’s.