Small amounts of grace are welcome spices of life. But the radical grace of God? It’s still shocking, offensive, and off-putting. Doesn’t it imply a lack of fairness and justice?
From a distance, we like to condemn the elder brother. Up close and personal, however, we secretly cheer him on.
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It’s been an interesting 27 years to be a preacher in Churches of Christ. There have been so many transitions, so many challenges.
Along the way, I’ve learned a little about the importance of congregational discernment. I’ve witnessed the wisdom of Luke Timothy Johnson’s Scripture & Discernment: Decision Making in the Church and Religious Experience in Earliest Christianity. He points out that in Acts 15, it is the experience of God’s new work among the Gentiles that caused the Jewish leaders to accept them sans circumcision (eventually with some rather creative readings of scripture).
There are so many wonderful young ministers I’ve gotten to know. They are well-trained; they’re passionate about the mission of God in this world (eschewing the kind of rapture theology that has dominated — even among those who don’t believe in the rapture!); and they’re devoted to personal and congregational discernment.
Good days are ahead. I’ll be cheering these young men and women along!