God even speaks to me through the X-Factor!
The title of this new track by the famous British black rapper, Stormzy, got me thinking (never a good thing!). Over the last few weeks, as we have approached our Gift Days at Jubilee Church Teesside, we have been considering the different aspects of God's Grace. How God's grace changes everything. How God's grace seems unreasonable, sometimes unfair. How God's grace offends us to the core - when you see this response growing in Alpha guests over the weeks, you know they are getting what Jesus is all about! But the questions it provoked in me were; ‘Am I really Blinded by God’s grace?’ Does his unmerited favour towards me still take my breath away?
It was the great Dr Martyn LLoyd-Jones who wrote:
Grace is favour shown to people who do not deserve any favour at all... we deserve nothing but hell. If you think you deserve heaven, take it from me, you are not a Christian.
A classic straight to the point prescription from the Doctor!!
But when we read passages like Ephesians 2, The Apostle Paul, both in his heart and literally, was blinded by God's grace.
As he writes his letters, you can see the landscape dramatically shifting. So much so that it’s hard to recognise what things looked like before! Just in Ephesians 2 alone, God's grace raises dead people to life, it seats us with God in heavenly places. Grace brings purpose and Godly adventures to our mundane lives and gathers former enemies into friendship and togetherness in Christ. What a gospel!
Andrew Wilson writes
The grace of God is an unstoppable avalanche that sweeps all in its path… In the twenty-two verses of Ephesians 2, this avalanche of grace turns a morgue into a temple… a graveyard into a ‘graceyard’, and a mortuary into a sanctuary’.
When the same Apostle Paul addresses the Galatian Church, ‘Oh, you dear idiots.’ (Gal 3:1), we know there’s something serious to hand as he identifies their slow but sure drift away from grace into a tradition of rule-keeping and law-abiding to get right with God. He was exasperated! He was not content simply to regard it as a church that was developing with ‘slightly different emphasis’. Legalism in the form of religion - is not the gospel of Christ!
John Stott writes:
You cannot touch the gospel and leave the church untouched - because the church is created by the gospel.
I remember the famous 1998 Brighton Conference talk by the late Simon Petitt. While acknowledging the amazing growth of the global church, he asked the very pertinent question, ‘What kind of churches are we building?’. You see quantity isn’t enough for God... foundations are key. And the God of grace is the driver of this glorious engine, the church, His wonderful bride!
And it is this grace, the very reason for salvation, that God wants to be made known. Grace, therefore, moves us from self-absorbed inactivity to adventures of faith beyond our natural realms - in preaching and healing, in integrity and kindness.
This is what provokes our involvement with the nations; this is what motivates us to reach out to the lost, confused and grieving; this is what calls us to welcoming new people into our friendships well before any declarations of faith; this is what sends us on bridge-building expeditions across rivers of difference, prejudice, racism; and this is what excites us about the potential of everybody to serve God in His Isaiah 61 Jubilee 4R Vision
I'm blinded by your grace
I'm blinded by your grace, by your grace
I'm blinded by your grace
I'm blinded by your grace
Lord, I've been broken
Although I'm not worthy
You fixed me, I'm blinded
By your grace
You came and saved me
Stormzy hasn’t got it all together! His other lyrics make that crystal clear! But neither have I! However maybe, just maybe, like all of us, he’s on a journey, he’s a work in progress, he’s in the Great Potter's hands. But in that process of moulding and shaping, like all of us should be, maybe he’s blinded, overwhelmed, blown away by the God of grace.
Terry Virgo writes
It is good to remember that whole churches that are built on the foundation of grace are different from those built on any other foundation. They become like Zion, the joy of the whole earth. No wonder people are very eager to be added to such companies and find that the joy of the Lord is their strength.
Jubilee, thank you for your continuing generosity. If you want to review your regular giving to the church or start a new journey as you join us in heart and friendship, please visit our giving page.
As we come out of our Covid restrictions and look into the next season for us as Jubilee, I wanted to take this time to share some news with you regarding our next steps as a church.
This month, we're privileged to have Michael Akotia write a blog for us. Michael along with his wife Mabel and three children (John, Keziah and Grace) are dear friends to us. Michael leads City of Grace Church in Ho, Ghana and serves on the Christ Central Churches International Team.
Have you ever thought that there might actually be a number of similarities between our Christian walk and baking a cake? Gavin explores some of these similarities in this month's Elders letter!
So Sunday saw the finale of series 6 of the BBC drama Line of Duty. If you haven't been watching it or have watched the latest series then you can read on. If you still plan to watch the final installment of series 6, you may want to stop here (although it's not a huge spoiler)!