For the past few months, some of the mentors in the Harvest youth group have been reading through A.W. Tozer’s Knowledge of the Holy together. Each chapter of the book talks about an attribute of God’s character, reflecting on things like omnipotence, faithfulness, and many of the other things that we have begun to understand about God.
Last night, we discussed a chapter that spoke on the justice of God, and something Tozer said resonated with me:
“A simpler and more familiar solution for the problem of how God can be just and still justify the unjust is found in the Christian doctrine of redemption. It is that, through the work of Christ in atonement, justice is not violated but satisfied when God spares a sinner.” (p.88, emphasis mine)
God’s justice is one that relies on the sacrifice of Jesus to justify one who has broken His law. In other words, it would actually be unjust to withhold grace from the sinner who is asking for forgiveness and turning from their sinful ways because of the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made by dying on the cross.
I believe this same concept may apply to the community of the church.
Something that is important to remember when considering what it means to have a rhythm of community is how the church should look different from other communities. Now, the church does have a few traditions that or actions that make it’s community unlike others: the tendency to meet specifically on Sundays; or our rituals, like baptism and communion. This is common in other groups too (for example softball groups tend to get together and play softball…).
Let’s go a little bit further. One might be baptized or consume the elements of communion without understanding what those actions mean or attend a Sunday morning service without any intention of investing in the church community.
What really separates the body of believers from any other communities or groups on Earth should be the way we treat each other when our selfish human natures arise. When we hurt one another, we should not seek revenge. Instead, we should seek to understand that we have all fallen and seek reconciliation and forgiveness.
Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13
Grace isn’t just one of the attributes applied in church to make it a nice place, or a theoretical idea we happily receive from God but withhold from those who hurt us. Grace is a defining and foundational truth of who we are as the hands and feet of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Just as God has generously lavished us with forgiveness and acceptance we can’t earn, it would be a failure as the community of Christ if we did not in turn give that grace to others.
In summary, without grace we are not the church.
It is as nonsensical as a book club that doesn’t read or a band without instruments. A church community that exemplifies grace is one that prioritizes the need for confession and forgiveness, just as Jesus called His followers to display.
As A. W. Tozer’s explained, true Christ-centric community is not merely improved but defined when its members forgive one another. The grace we show one another is what gives us the ability to be the body of Christ.
As we contemplate what it means to have a rhythm of community, let us ask ourselves this question: How can I increase grace and forgiveness in the community Christ has called me to be a part of?