Empty Religion Vs. Abundant Grace

8:42 AMHeather

There are waves of change blowing through me.  And, from all that can tell, I am not alone.  In fact, I believe that the storm swells are growing and a tidal wave is sweeping over us.  It's a tidal wave that is best described in one word.  Grace.  

From books I have read to sermons I have heard to conversations with friends and my general impression of the world of Christianity, I believe an incredible and mighty work of God is here.  It's growing.  And I couldn't be more thrilled.  Because THIS is what the world around us is so very hungry to experience.  

So many of us who grew up in the church or have long roots within it are seeing an epidemic towards grace rather than legalism.  The exchange of performancism toward one way love (Check out Tullian Tchividjian's book One Way Love for more). The point of callous empty ritual and religion being exchanged for choosing to dive headlong into the ocean of grace, the doctrine of grace, that is really God's heart for us all along.  Yet, like the Pharisees and Sadduccees, it's a concept so hard to fathom that we've exchanged it for an edict of rule following and earning our way and doing whatever we can.  That breeds exclusivity.  Honestly, it doesn't seem very fun or loving or welcoming to the world around us.

Instead, we must embrace that there is actually nothing we can do.  Other than accept the gift of grace and dare to plunge into its depth and be changed by it.  Releasing all control.

So what does this look like?  How do we shift our faith from an empty religion to an abundant grace?  I'm still processing it all as I wrap my head and heart around it.  But, here's what I have, thus far.

Empty religion says follow these rules.
Abundant grace says sit the feet of Jesus.

Empty religion says we must perform and do and achieve.
Abundant grace says you can't ever do enough.  I did it all.

Empty religions says look at our own self-righteousness. 
Abundant graces says be in awe of My gift of righteousness.

Empty religion says follow these traditions.
Abundant grace says stay by my side.  Learn to love and know me.

Empty religion involves fear of failure.
Abundant grace says His perfect love cast out all fear.

Empty religion involves earning approval.
Abundant grace says you never can earn it.  It's just my 1 way love.

Empty religion says follow these rituals.
Abundant grace says learn who I am.

Empty religion says fit this mold.  
Abundant grace says abide in my love.

Empty religion says obey these rules.
Abundant grace says remain in Me.

Empty religion says us and them.  Saved and sinners.
Abundant grace says I am worst of sinners.  Yet saved.

Empty religion says follow our script.
Abundant grace says dig into my Word.

Empty religion seeks to hang onto a slippery, elusive God.
Abundant grace is being held by a personal, loving God.

Empty religion creates cliques and is elitist.
Abundant grace says join us.  There's always room.

Empty religion says our church is better than yours.
Abundant grace says we are all the Church.

Empty religion says church is showcase for pretty smiley people.
Abundant grace says church is a hospital for the broken.

Empty religion points fingers and judges and criticizes.
Abundant grace is humbled by a love that spills over.

Empty religion is restraining, constricting.
Abundant grace is freeing.

Empty religion causes frenzy and work.
Abundant grace brings peace and joy.

Empty religion is full of empty promises, empty ritual, empty tradition, empty attempts to perform and earn, and being emptied as we spin our wheels.

Abundant grace says look at the empty tomb.

Because He knew we would fail, time and again.  Yet He still came.  He still chose to die on a cross.  He still paid ALL of our debts.  He offers complete forgiveness and longs for intimate fellowship.  He wants us to rest in His one way love, accept it, consider it, be filled by it.  Sitting at His feet.  Resting in His Word.  Clinging to His presence.  

Changed by it all. 

Let's all sink.  Let's drown in the ocean of grace.  I believe that Tullian Tchividjian is right.  His inexhaustible grace is the answer for this exhausted world. 

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