This Idea Radically Changed How I View The World

As you grow in your faith, you’ll occasionally come across of a piece of theology or an idea or a perspective that changes everything.

One of the biggest ideas that changed everything for me is Common Grace.

This specific term comes from the Reformed school of thought, but don’t head for the hills if you’re not a 5 point Calvinist (I am not either). The idea is shared by many circles. In fact, this logic is often celebrated by even the staunchest Arminian.

Common Grace is a deep issue, though, with many possible implications depending on how it’s interpreted and how far it’s taken. Much of the reading online comes from Reformed commentators and writers so it can be taken to a place you might or might not agree with, but the essence of this idea is agreed upon by the majority of Christians. It is quite apparent in scripture, after all. I hope to expand upon Common Grace in future posts, but I’d like to introduce it here.

What’s the big idea? 

At its core, Common Grace refers to the gifts (and therefore grace) God bestows that are common to all people. This is drastically different from saving grace; these common gifts are given to all, not only those that have accepted salvation.

Most Christians agree that God reveals himself in the expanse and awful power of nature. A roaring waterfall, the vibrant color of fall leaves, and the serene rainbow that emerges after a thunderstorm are signs God shows to all people.

But He has given us much more than nature itself. Life could be devoid of color, music, taste, and fun. If you watch the movie The Giver you’ll see this presented and see how possible it is. None of what makes life enjoyable is necessary. But God showed grace to all people in creating those things.

Think about just a few of the things you experience with your senses.

God didn’t have to create sugar cane, cumen, rosemary, pepper, salt, cacao, or coffee beans. Food and drink could merely be fuel, lacking taste or texture of any kind.

God didn’t have to create pine, cedar, lavender, grass, smoke, rain, lime, cheese, leather, flowers, or apples to have a distinct scent. If taste is unnecessary, so is smell.

God didn’t have to create octaves, thirds, major, minor, rhythm, pitch, or even sound itself. We could communicate by means that aren’t auditory.

God didn’t have to create red, blue, maroon, periwinkle, cobalt, orange, azure, yellow, sea foam green, cyan, aquamarine, magenta, beige, black, gray, or navy. There’s no need for color or texture.

But God created these things.

Why? The omnipotent Creator didn’t need these things. Why create so much extra stuff that is completely unnecessary to life?  It’s simple.

God created these things for us.

Everything you’ve every tasted, heard, seen, smelled, felt, or experienced has been created by God for you.

How beautiful is that?

This radically changed how I viewed the world. The world God created isn’t some decrepit vacuum that only holds the sinners to be harvested. It’s a gift. It’s good in and of itself because it’s been given value by its Creator. My Creator.

This really changes the Christian vs. worldly dichotomy that was the dogma for approaching culture for decades. Christians should engage and create culture, not separate themselves from it to create a watered down version of their own.

Rap music, a filet mignon, football, cap toe derbies, train-side graffiti, a Ferrari, ice sculptures, knit ties, barbecued ribs, Footloose, motorsports, bluegrass, succulent gardens, Interstellar, strawberry smoothies, and a child’s finger painting are enjoyable because God allows them to be.

Just as the Bible has authority because God authored it, so Creation has value because God created it. And these things do have a real value as Creation, but their ultimate reason for existence is to point to our Creator.

So I want to encourage you, Church. Open your eyes to see all Creation as valuable. Realize that everything you use and/or experience is good, because its Creator gives it value. Be thankful for everything you eat, see, smell, touch, and partake of; it’s a gift God has made common to all.

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A Thought on Christians at College

The following is from my Facebook post from my first week of college. I shared it here because it’s just as relevant as it was my first week at college. This is something I have to constantly remind myself of. I hope you enjoy:

I’ve lived at college for right at a week now and have already overheard horror stories of overbearing, condescending Christians. “They think they can damn everyone with a different lifestyle straight to hell.” (That’s an actual quote) 

Let that NOT be said of us, myself definitely included. I’m called to love God first, then my neighbor next. (Mark 12:30&31) How can I lead them to the love of Christ when I become the mascot for hate?

Jesus never stood at a synagogue and wagged his finger at those who weren’t there.

Jesus met people where they were.He met people over food & drink, over a healed loved one, over a loving conversation. He did so with a heart of love, as I am called to: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12 ESV)

Jesus also approached these people differently to reach them. He spoke to Pharisees about the Mosaic Law and their corruption of it. But when talking in large crowds he used parables of common objects like salt, light, sheep, rebellious sons, seeds, beggars, virgins, and Samaritans because everyone understood those images.

Paul modeled this perfectly, he talks to Jews about the law because it reaches them. But when speaking to Gentiles the law is useless. He understands and relates to others to lead them to Christ:                                                                                                                                                               “To the Jews I became as a Jew, in order to win Jews. To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law. To the weak I became weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all people, that by all means I might save some. I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings.” (1 Corinthians 9:20-23 ESV) 

Paul met people where they were, and I have to as well.

Jesus understood and related to people, that’s why his message was delivered with such sincerity and power. That’s why it was effective. I must learn a heart before I can help lead it closer to Christ.

So let me NEVER compromise or change the Gospel, but let me change how I deliver it. I should NEVER be brash, coarse, argumentative, pious, hateful, or condescending. I SHOULD be loving, understand, patient and Christ-like.

I challenge you to do the same.