I am reading a wonderful booklet called “A Call to Intimacy and Truth” by Judit Catan. In it, we are challenged to be completely transparent, totally truthful, and committed to the Holy Spirit and to seeking intimacy with GOD the Father even in the midst of our church, our congregation, our fellow brothers and sisters in a church service.
I love this booklet because it articulates (well, I’m in Chapter 4 right now, so I must qualify and say, ‘so far as I’ve read’) how we need to allow ourselves to become unreligious in church in all aspects.
“I believe, intimacy is God’s uppermost desire for us today. He wants us to be easy and intimate with Him and with each other……. It is also a call to genuine fellowship, unguarded and capable of taking risks.” (p7 “A Call to Intimacy and Truth: Pre-requisite for Revival”, Catan, Judit, © 2007)
Behaviour in Church
But what about decorum and politeness and grace? How can we get rid of all protocol (because as Judit does explain, there is a form of religion even in decorum) without being downright rude, since Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, love is never rude?
I believe the answer is so simple: it is by grace toward one another.
To say we do all things in love is too vague as there are so many things we can do or say and simply attach, “Well, I said a word of correction to you, but it was in love, wasn’t I?”
Grace is receiving what is undeserved: forgiveness, acceptance, unconditional love.
This grace of GOD, which we receive and are grateful for, comes through His offer of salvation and Jesus’ sacrifice, and extends beyond human love. Grace measures everything — our every action and thought and word — if we allow it to. If we check ourselves and ask “Are we acting with grace?” or if ask GOD, “Is there anything I missed in my behaviour in church or with a brother or sister today?” He may reply “Nothing, well done…” or He may reply, “You could have shown more grace.”
This awareness of a less than perfect grace happened to me recently. I gave a word in a group, referring to the scripture where we are told that if we approach the alter of GOD but have a problem with a brother or sister, we need first to make peace with the brother or sister and only then make the offering to GOD (even now I cannot find the scripture — may a reader kindly and graciously offer it?) As I gave the word I was puzzled but also slightly dissatisfied that this word should be needed to be articulated in this particular group. And so, I was slightly judgmental, not perfectly acting in grace. I didn’t realise this at a the time, but alone with GOD in the evening, I did ask and He said to my spirit, “You did not demonstrate perfect grace.”
The most important aspect to this grace perhaps is not the magnificence of it, nor its power, but that we need it desperately to separate us from our own egos. Whether we experience rebuke or praise, His grace is sufficient to carry us. Our ego will love praise or crave affirmation from man. But His grace fills our spirit and restores our soul so that we do not need anything from man, but only from Yehovah our GOD. As we live and move and have our being, His grace is sufficient. We seek not man’s praise but GOD’s grace.
May we all experience the giving nature of absolute grace, living a lifestyle of grace toward others, even as we have received this from our LORD.