by Erin Bird
In light of Vision Sunday, I want to start a new series here on the values of Riverwood.
To help people (like myself) remember our values, we have kept them to three. Yes, there are other things we “value” (like chocolate!), but these are the three we seek to keep at the forefront of everything we do. Our three values are Grace, Truth, and Trust, in that order.
And the order is important! People will be far more open to hearing the truth of the gospel if they can sense the grace of the gospel through us. And when they sense that grace and accept the truth, they will come to trust God.
So because our values start with grace, let us jump right to talking about Value #1.
Several years ago, I heard about a cop who pulled over a young man for having an expired license plate. The young man simply didn’t have the money to pay for the renewal. I found it sad that his financial situation made it difficult for him to make ends meet. But the fact of the matter was, he had broken the law and deserved to get a ticket.
Now, if I had been the cop, I would have been tempted to give the driver mercy. Mercy is “not getting what you deserve.” This guy deserved a ticket, but I might have not given it to him because of his financial situation.
But the cop in the story didn’t show mercy. He didn’t let the young man off with a warning. Instead, he handed him a ticket. But wrapped up inside the ticket was a $100 bill to pay the fine.
You see, while mercy is not getting what you DO deserve, grace is getting what you DO NOT deserve. This cop upheld the law, but at the same time, gave the young man the means to not only pay the fine but also renew his wife’s registration as well.
In the four Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke & John), we read about Peter’s denial of knowing Jesus. Jesus had been arrested in the middle of the night and dragged off for a “trial.” Peter followed a safe distance behind so he could figure out what was going to happen to Jesus. But a couple of people recognized Peter and asked him, “Aren’t you one of His disciples?” Afraid he too would be arrested and possibly killed for his association with Jesus, Peter emphatically said no. He denied being a Jesus follower.
So when Jesus is resurrected from the dead, you can understand why Peter would go back to fishing. He had failed as a disciple. He had told Jesus he wouldn't deny being a Jesus follower, and yet he did. So he went back to the one thing he was good at.
But Jesus wasn’t done with Peter.
In John 21, we see Jesus confront Peter. Peter deserved at least a lecture for his denial, maybe even more. Yet Jesus didn't give him any of that. He forgave him! He showed Peter mercy.
But Jesus didn’t stop there. He then gave Peter the responsibility to move Jesus’ mission forward. Jesus gave him something he didn’t deserve. He gave him responsibility and leadership. He gave him grace.
And we see Peter respond to this grace when he preaches in Acts 2. A throng of people listened to Peter preach about Jesus, the resurrection, and the grace of God, and 3000 people made a decision to follow Jesus.
Peter didn’t take advantage of the grace Jesus gave him in John 21. Nor did he leave the conversation in John 21 thinking he had just gotten away with something. Rather, he was humbled by the grace Jesus gave him, and Peter allowed that grace to launch him into something beautiful and powerful, which we read in Acts 2.
That’s why, at Riverwood, we seek to “lead with grace.” We want to give to people the same kind of grace Jesus gave Peter and gives to us. We believe that when someone truly experiences grace, it will launch them into something beautiful and powerful. Rather than just be takers and consumers in life, they too will become grace-dispensers.
So, if you have seen the depravity of your own sin and realized God has not only shown you mercy by forgiving you of your sins but also gives you grace by inviting you to follow Him, then give grace to others, trusting God can use that grace to launch them into something beautiful.
Let’s lead with grace. Let’s be like Jesus. Let us be grace-dispensers!
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