God's grace renewing a people through worship, community & service
During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world were discussing whether any one belief was unique to the Christian faith. The debate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. "What's the rumpus about?" he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity's unique contribution among world religions. In his forthright manner Lewis responded, "Oh, that's easy. It's grace."
It always starts with God. God called all things into being and sustains them by his word. Through the Bible, God’s grace is revealed throughout and comes to fulfillment in the life, death, and resurrection of his Son, Jesus Christ. There is no other faith tradition in which salvation is such a unique gift from God.
And God’s grace renews a people, not just individuals, but a community, called the Church, to live a life of grace in the world. The renewal part is interesting too. The Bible’s picture of salvation isn’t the destruction of what God made, but it is a process of making it even better, fuller, richer, deeper, from our relationship with God, to our human life together, and even all nature too.
This process of renewal could look something like this:
Worship -> Community -> Service
Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God's mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is true worship. -Romans 12.1
The Christian life starts by centering your life on God in worship. As Augustine of Hippo wrote, “Our hearts are restless until they rest in Thee, O Lord.” One aspect of worship is what we do together on Sundays, but really worship is a whole life thing for which our Sunday worship forms us.
From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. -Ephesians 4.16
As we progress in God’s grace, we are drawn into community. Since the Triune God himself exists in community, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we too long for and find fulfillment when we live in community with others, encouraging each other, carrying each other’s burdens, and holding each other accountable to promises we make.
Each one should use whatever gift he has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms. -1 Peter 4.10
And, finally, the Church doesn’t exist for itself. God calls us to be like his Son Jesus, who came not to be served, but to serve by giving his life for others. Christians move from community to serving the world by sharing our time, resources, and talents with our neighbors and by also sharing the incredible story of God’s grace with them. This mission then, by God’s grace, begins the cycle all over again for new believers.