A lot of people sincerely believe that “getting on God’s good side” requires being religious, doing devout acts that will earn His favor. And those people couldn’t be more wrong. Entering into a friendship with God, experiencing His unending love and total forgiveness, has absolutely nothing to do with being religious. In fact, there’s nothing we could do to earn that love and forgiveness. No, a friendship with God is based entirely on what was already done for you, two thousand years ago. Jesus Christ willingly allowed Himself to be ridiculed, beaten, and nailed to a cross just to make God’s love and forgiveness available to you. That’s His grace: free, undeserved kindness. We’ll never deserve it, we’ll never be worthy. But the answer to your inner loneliness, your haunting guilt and lack of purpose is found in that vertical grace, from God down to you. That’s why our church emphasizes grace, why it shows up in our name, because it’s God’s grace that is the start of anything truly meaningful, anything truly satisfying. A genuine “grace life” begins with entering into God’s grace in Christ. It removes the need to perform, because those who have received God’s grace have been completely and eternally accepted. That’s what it means to have a real relationship with God. Reality, not religion.
For many Christians, “grace” stops right at the vertical. They recognize that God saved them by His free and underserved kindness, that He has forgiven them and will spend eternity with them...but that’s as far as it goes. They haven’t learned that grace is also horizontal, that it’s supposed to connect the People of God in a close, meaningful relationship of affection and acceptance. So they end up living lonely lives, isolated, trying to work out the spiritual life all on their own, even if they’re part of a church. But those people have a wrong view of grace. Truly understanding the grace of God includes realizing that His grace impacts the relation-ships we have with each other: we need to share His free and undeserved kindness toward those who belong to Him. We’ll never deserve it, we’ll never be worthy--but as God’s People, we can all experience together the love and forgiveness He has shown us, we can develop honest and beyond-the-surface friendships. That’s why Grace Life emphasizes grace, because if grace isn’t part of our relationships, we’re not functioning like the church God designed. Grace removes the need to perform, because those who share God’s grace love and accept one another. That’s what it means to have a real relationship. Reality, not religion.
Churches differ from one another in what they emphasize. Some, for example, put value on music and worship, others invest a lot in missions, and so on. All of those aspects can be pleasing to God as He leads each congregation. Here in Grace Life, our emphasis is relationships. The most important relationship is vertical: between you and God. The second most important relationship is horizontal: between the People of God. And the key to both of those relationships is grace: free and undeserved kindness.
Grace is between God and His People and between the People of God.