We’re coming to the end of Andy Stanley’s “The Grace of God.” And while it’s been a fantastic book, it stirs up a lot of unresolved business in me. Which is I suppose why we needed to read this book. Because unresolved business turns into wounds and bitterness. And God loves me too much to want me to walk around plagued by wounds and hardened by bitterness.
This week’s chapter was extremely painful for me to read. I was reading Stanley’s words about how the church is the answer, and all I could think of was how, for me, the church has usually been the problem and not the solution. My first abuser was a church member, and throughout my life, I’ve been repeatedly rejected by churches and church members, including being asked to leave a church when I reported to the youth pastor a youth worker who was in an inappropriate relationship with a youth (and eventually molested that youth).
No, the church has never been a place of healing for me, sad to say.
And so I continue to bleed on the page as I talk about it.
I want to believe that church is a place of grace, but I guess first, I need to find within myself grace for the church who hasn’t always been graceful to me.
But in this difficult chapter, Andy Stanley also talks about my favorite aspect of grace – and it’s the very aspect that I most need to exercise:
Grace is for everyone.
Stanley says, “…it’s not your grace. It’s not my grace. It’s God’s grace. And it’s for everybody.”
That means it’s not just for me. And it’s not just for church people. And it’s not just for pastors. And it’s not just for lovely people with nice personalities. It’s for the grumpy man who lets his dog do his business next to my patio and then doesn’t clean up after it. It’s for the lady who instead of appreciating my effort, yelled at me when I did her a favor. And it’s for the pastor who called me a liar and sent me away, months before learning that his protégé was molesting a youth in the church.
Stanley says that “the church is most appealing when the message of grace is most apparent.” And that’s true about me, too. I’m a better, more loving person when grace is flowing in my life. My hope and prayer is that even as we close the covers on this book, the grace continues to flow in my life, and I learn to forgive and walk in open-handed, open-hearted grace.
This post is part of a weekly discussion that my friend, Jason, and I are co-facilitating on Andy Stanley’s “The Grace of God.” Feel free to stick around and chat, even if you haven’t read the book. If you have written a response to this chapter, link it up at the widget below.