Grace On Tap
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth camethrough Jesus Christ” John 1:17
During the Great Awakening Jonathan Edwards was leading a massive prayer meeting of over eight hundred men when he received a message from a wife requesting that the men pray for her husband, whose “spiritual pride had led him to be unloving, prideful, and difficult.” Thinking that perhaps the husband was in attendance at the prayer meeting, Edwards read the prayer request to the eight hundred men, then asked if the man who had been described would raise his hand so that the rest of the men could pray for him. Three hundred men raised their hands.
A foundational principle in men’s ministry is recognizing that even though our men know Christ died for their sins, many, perhaps most, still feel too dirty and sinful to be loved by a holy God. No matter how good our programs are, how rich our Biblical insights may be, or how successful we are at helping men better connect, our men’s ministry will fall flat if our men’s guilt and failure make them doubt God’s love for them. Like Adam and Eve, their shame will drive them away from God unless their Christian life is built on the foundation of grace.
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world debated what belief, if any, was unique to the Christian faith. They discussed the fact that other religions had some form of incarnation, and accounts of someone returning from the dead. The debate continued until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. Lewis asked what the rumpus was about, and heard that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s uniqueness among world religions. Lewis responded, “Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”
Every other religion teaches that we must earn God’s favor. In fact, just about every part of the world where our men live is about rewards they receive based upon their efforts. They pass their classes in school, find a good job, get promotions, and even win the heart of their wife through their effort. They know well the axiom, “there are no free lunches.”
The problem is that if they bring this “I have to earn God’s favor” attitude into their walk with God, it will destroy their potential for spiritual growth. They will focus on fixing their behavior, which will only lead to frustration, further guilt, and even anger with the God who demands perfection. Nothing poisons spiritual growth more than the inner belief that I have to be good so that God will love me.
The only way true spiritual growth takes place is for me to know that God loves me unconditionally despite my sin. Then my heart is free to respond to God’s love with my love. I become motivated to follow his commandments not to earn his love but out of gratefulness for the love I already have! A long term disciple-making ministry for men must reach their hearts. That is why we must create an atmosphere in our men’s ministry where men are taking constant gulps of grace.
Article originally part of “Get in the Game”
a periodic email communication from CEP
October / November 2008 Vol. 4 No.4