“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28 MSG)
Why is it some embrace grace so easily and others seem to 'dance around it' for quite a long time? I think if may just be the way they feel about 'the church' as a whole. Stop for a moment to consider what someone may think about your local neighborhood church. Is it a positive place that embraces the sinner, or will the sinner feel the outcast upon entering in? That is a tough question for some of us to answer honestly, but it is an important one to consider today. God's intent for the church wasn't for us to create buildings and denominations, but places of refuge and healing - places of safety and sanctuary - so that all who enter in will be able to find the unforced rhythms of grace moving over and into their lives in limitless quantities!
I hear people say they are 'burned out on religion' - tired of what the 'church' people say or do, frustrated by the judgment they receive by others 'in the church', or the outright 'bigotry' observed in some arenas of 'church-goers'. I have to admit, I have observed some of the same 'in the church' and I know it disappoints Christ immensely to see us acting that way! His grace was never intended to exclude those who don't quite see things the way we do, but it was extended to all who would come. In time, as those who come are around his truth long enough, their lives begin to change - all at differing paces, but changing nonetheless.
We aren't to judge their pace as too slow, nor are we to portray the image that says one needs to be cleaned up before they can come into grace. God intends for the church to be a place of refuge - of safety, rescue, and restoration. We come - all of us - unclean and unwashed. Our sins are as filthy rags - our lives are impure, unholy, and downright unbecoming - all of us. None is without sin - therefore, none is without the need for grace! Be the church of Christ - BE the grace of God - BE the healing touch of the Savior. That is the mission of the church, my friends - to bring others into the place where they will come to walk in the 'unforced rhythms of grace God offers to all who will come.
Church isn't something we 'go to' at a particular time or day of the week. Church is people with issues - all kinds of hurts and hang-ups - coming together to learn of the grace of God and to learn to leave behind the issues. Church isn't a building - it is a living, breathing group of sinners, learning to live freely for the first time in their lives. Yes, we have buildings and we call them churches, but the real 'church' is not the building, but the bodies that gather together in worship. God's grace is never more felt than when his people gather together, learning from him in unison, and then lifting holy hands and voices in worship to his name.
It is as we 'get away with Jesus' that we are brought into a life of 'recovery'. Some may think they are above the place of recovery, but as long as you are taking in breath on this earth, you need to embrace the principles of 'recovery'. It is not the 12-Step kind of recovery I reference here, but the multiple step process of recovery that comes as we allow grace to wash us, make us clean, and then restore us to life as it is meant to be lived. We learn to 'do' relationship all over again, all because of grace. We learn to 'do' life again, all because of grace showing us how to change our choices. We learn to 'do' CHURCH together - because CHURCH is really something that is lived out daily, not a place we frequent weekly. Just sayin!