Grace Through Relationships
August 24, 2017 | by: Dale Thiele | 0 Comments
Posted in: Pastoral Encouragement
I have asked the men of Oak Hills to read a book with me this summer, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture by David Murray. I’m drawn to this book because I want to see the grace of God lived out more and more in my life, in my thinking, in my feeling, in my marriage, in my family, in my relationships, and in my work. I hope you are able to pick up a copy and read with me. It will be the launching pad for discussion at our Men’s Breakfast this Saturday. In the meantime, I want to use these Touchpoint articles to share some of my reflections as I work through Murray’s book. This is part five.
I have enjoyed reading and reflecting on Murray’s book, Reset. This book has been highly practical while rooted in deep Scriptural principles. In each chapter, Murray focuses on a different area of our lives where the grace of Christ needs to be applied and practiced. This discipline of living a “grace-paced” life leads to healthy routines in our families, our marriages, our mental processes, our emotions, our churches, etc. I highly recommend this book (Murray’ wife also wrote a counterpart, specifically for women: Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands, coming out in October).
I want to spend one last time reflecting on another area Murray touches on. In one of his last chapters, Murray addresses relationships, how relationships in our lives serve as a means of grace for us and how to cultivate healthy relationships that center on grace. He begins by stating:
As God said, “It is not good that man should be alone” (Gen. 2:18). If a perfect man in a perfect world in a perfect relationship with God needed to hear that, how much more do sinful men in a sinful world in far-from-sinless relationships with God? It is not good for man to be alone. Man. That’s me. That’s you. Yet so many of us still try to live largely independent, solitary, disconnected, and self-sufficient lives. The result, as predicted, is “not good” (p. 157).
The principle of Genesis 2 stands true whether you are married or not. God has made us to be relational beings and has never intended any of us to be independent and self-sufficient. Murray then spends time discussing ways to cultivate grace producing relationships with God, your spouse, your children, your pastor or shepherd, and friends. While each of these come into play with your relationship with the church, I wish Murray spent time speaking about the grace-producing relationship we ought to have with our church. Let me briefly highlight what the apostle Paul teaches about our vital, grace-giving, relationship with the church.
- Christ unites us and builds us in one body (Rom. 12:5; Eph. 2:22). A relationship with the church is not optional if you are a follower of Christ. Christ is building a body of many members. By Christ’s work we become “members one of another.” Avoiding a relationship with the church is actively seeking to work against what Christ is doing.
- We are gifted to serve one another in the church (Rom. 12:6). The hyper-individualism of 21st century America leads us to think of only ourselves, what we can gain from any given situation. We eat, breathe, drink a me-first mentality. The church, and our relationships in the church, are just the opposite. We have been gifted for the sake of others (1 Cor. 12:7). If you are not serving others in the church, and you only think about what the church can do for you,
- We need each other to grow in spiritual maturity (Eph. 4:16). Paul says some very important words about growth in Ephesians 4. In verse 16, removing the extra qualifying phrases, Paul says, “The whole body makes the body grow…” His point is that growth and maturity in Christ is a “whole body” activity. If you remove yourself from the church body, you remove yourself from Christ’s intended tool to help you grow.
- Love within the church is vital (Rom. 12:9-13). Paul speaks about love many times in his letters. His great “love chapter” (1 Corinthians 13) is sandwiched in between two chapters about the use of gifts in the church. Love is a fruit of the Spirit and love for one another is a testimony of Christ’s work among us (John 13:35). The apostle John goes as far as to say that you cannot love God unless you love your “brother” (read: a member of your church, 1 John 4:20). Do you love the people of your church?
God has designed the church to be a means of bringing his grace into your life. Cultivate your relationship with the church and enjoy his grace for you!