Honestly, everyone craves it – and we know the famous song about it. Ironically the author, John Newton, sold 20,000 people and their descents into a future without it! We still live in a world that is largely devoid of it – too big for people to get into their heads.  And yet there are rumors of it. And that’s why people who catch a glimpse of Jesus’ gathered people – who don’t show it, are so puzzled. Admittedly – it is too big to understand. Why would the very One who could make sure everyone gets precisely what they deserve – not give THAT to them? Why would He instead choose pain, rejection and humiliation for Himself – so we get what we would never deserve? We know the stories Jesus told – about a son who blew the family fortune and came home looking for a job – and got his life back! About a guy who amassed a level of debt we can’t possible imagine, and when he asked for mercy – got grace! No one wants to live in a graceless world or drop into a graceless eternity. And there’s always a twist in Jesus’ stories about grace – and that twist calls us up short. Some are too proud to receive it – I mean, it’s like the best gift ever that sits under the Christmas tree – wrapped, offered and yet rejected. Jesus gathered people sometimes gladly receive the gift – and become pre-occupied with it, and love to hear more and more about it –  but are unwilling to pass it on. Everything God gives to us and offers to us because of His breathtaking, beautiful AMAZING GRACE – is absolutely unlimited – and is intended to be shared by those who know and love Him!


Jesus was very clear in telling His Disciples that His new over-arching command for His gathered people, His congregation, was Love one another  as I have loved you! Those were His marching orders. His people were to make war against hatred, lust, greed, power-mongering, jealousy – by loving and counteracting disrespect, thoughtlessness and cruelty with love and grace. As they had received grace, they were to give grace. As they had been forgiven – they were to forgive. As they had been given – they were to be generous with others. As someone had been thoughtful enough to be Good News to them, they were to be Good News to others. As Jesus had served them and given His life for them, they were to serve and give their lives for others. In doing this – in exposing and turning away from selfishness, self-interest, self-preoccupation and self-preservation. we take a narrow path – but it’s intentionally life producing and life giving. In a culture that pushes in the opposite direction – this life attracts and makes gatherings of Jesus’ people irresistibly loving. This is what defined people of a different way – simply called, The Way – in honour of their Lord who was THE Way, THE Truth and THE Life! 


I see the church almost like a volcano – where the energy and power under the surface erupts with awesome force – lava runs hot and wild and changes the landscape. Then it cools and hardens and everything looks normal. The difference is that volcanoes are abnormal and usually destructive – and what Jesus intended His gathered people to be was a life-giving flow of love, life, grace and hope. It was never intended to cool and harden!  Jesus said that you have to put new wine in new bottles. He also said that the people who have tasted the old wine, don’t want the new. His point, first, was that His Kingdom would change everything. The old categories and containers wouldn’t fit any more. His kingdom isn’t about a set of laws we keep to make God happy and get something from Him. The whole thing is flipped. Life isn’t about preserving and enriching your own life – it’s about loving! It’s about giving your life way. To love others is to love God. You don’t want to worship an old bottle – it’s empty!


There’s a saying that if we don’t learn from history, we’re signing up to repeat it. To really understand Jesus’ coming and why He had to come, you really need to understand how God’s mission to bless the nations, make all things new started with Abraham, led to creating a nation and a covenant, and then the coming of the Messiah. The question people sometimes ask is, “Why did God change tactics?” And some blatantly ask, “Why does the God who led Israel seem so different than Jesus?” And what does that mean for us – 2000 years after Jesus came and changed everything? We need to take a look into our hearts, because our true feelings about Jesus, His mission and His gathered people, are betrayed by the priority we give it! To ignore it says volumes!