Hello Brothers & Sisters,
Vacation Bible School is going well. We broke a record the first day with 175 kids in attendance! We are so thankful that God is blessing this ministry at Grantham Church. Please continue to pray for the children and all of the volunteers throughout the week. We look forward to hearing how the week went this Sunday in our worship service.
If you missed the service this past Sunday, I preached a message entitled, Beware the Yeast of the Pharisees. Who were the Pharisees? Why did Jesus have such strong words of rebuke for them? And what is the “yeast” (sins) that he warned us to watch out for as his disciples? I encourage you to go back and listen to the sermon if you weren’t present in worship. I do believe that we see the sins of the Pharisees at work in the church today, and we want to be careful that we’re standing with Jesus and not those whom Jesus says will never enter the Kingdom of God.
After the sermon, I said that one of the reasons that Pharisees don’t see and treat people like Jesus—extending God’s love, mercy, and grace—is because they haven’t experienced those things for themselves. You see, it’s possible to grow up in the church, learn some stuff about the Bible, go through the motions, but not actually have a real experience(s) of God’s love. But as Brethren in Christ, we believe that the Christian life is made up of these experiences. In fact, the more experiences we have, the more we’re helped along to become like Christ. That’s what it means to be a Christian.
The Christian life is not easy, but it does get easier the more we submit to the Spirit and respond out of the mercy he has lavished on us.
You may remember the story in Luke 7:36-50 when a “sinful” woman (likely a prostitute) barges in on Jesus’ dinner with the Pharisees. She washes Jesus’ feet with her tears and dries them with her hair. She also anoints Jesus’ feet with an expensive perfume. In typical Pharisaical fashion, the religious leaders can’t believe that Jesus allows her to do this. “Don’t you know what kind of woman she is? She’s a sinner!” Jesus then responds with a short story about forgiving debts. And he said, “The person who has been forgiven little, will forgive little.”
In other words, if you don’t recognize the gravity of your own pitiful state, and what a merciful and gracious act it was for God to forgive you of your sins, then you won’t extend that forgiveness to others. But if you do see yourself as you really are, as Peter once said, “Go away from me, Lord! I’m a sinful person” (Luke 5:8), then you can’t help but reciprocate what God has done for you. What Jesus was saying to the Pharisees was this: “You’re acting this way toward this woman [shaming and shunning her] because you don’t recognize how sinful you are and what God has done for you.”
That would be tough for the Pharisees to hear, right? And even tougher for them to actually repent of their self-righteous, judgmental attitudes so they can adopt Jesus’ way of seeing people. Yet, that is what Jesus asks of us who take his name and profess to follow him. What about you? Are you finding it difficult to forgive or extend mercy and grace to others? I want to encourage us to see ourselves the way God sees us—made in his image, but broken and not as we should be. For that’s when we will experience more of God’s love and be changed by an encounter with his holiness.
Brothers and sisters, nothing is hidden from God. He sees all of our short-comings and hypocrisies. He knows how much we need him. The question is… do we know that and show that? If so, I encourage us to allow the Holy Spirit to soften our hard hearts and give us the heart of Jesus—a heart of compassion, mercy, and grace. And let us be known for that heart at Grantham Church.
I hope to see you in worship this Sunday. Until then, may God give you fresh experiences of his love and grace in your life.
Grace & Peace,
P.S. We are continuing to work on bringing clarity to our missional communities (MCs) at Grantham. Remember that MCs are communities of people, on mission with God, who seek to make disciples by demonstrating the gospel tangibly through a common service and witness to a specific group of people. Examples of these are Paxton, New Hope, Friends Over Fences, etc. And as I’ve said before, we should have about 4-5 missional communities in a church our size, with the current level of involvement. We’re making progress, but we need your help. If you have any specific thoughts or ideas on how you see God at work at Grantham, or how you’d like to personally be involved in a MC, please contact Dan Bisbee (email@example.com) in the church office. Thank you!
* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org