A father took his son to a large city museum, thinking that the visit would entertain the boy. But for two hours his son did nothing but sigh and complain. Finally, in desperation, the boy said to his father, "Dad, let's go someplace where things are real."
People in our world today are looking for individuals who are "real" and "authentic." I believe that the first step toward authentic Christianity is to have a fresh, mind-reorientating, character-transplanting, personality-liberating experience of God's grace. The Apostle Paul began his letters with the words "grace and peace." Paul realized that experiencing God's grace changes our lives.
God's grace is his giving, forgiving, unchanging, unconditional love. Jesus Christ's death on Calvary's cross is its ultimate expression. The Apostle Paul never could forget that grace. He constantly remembered what he experienced on the Damascus road that transformed him from being a persecutor of the faith to its most vigilant proclaimer, from being a self-righteous man to a new creation in Christ, from feeling hostile toward Christian believers to experiencing their inexhaustible hope.
Grace, for Paul, meant to live in Christ and to allow Christ to live in him.
To him, experiencing God's grace was about Christ actually living in him through the Holy Spirit.
The greatest need in the church today is for those who have experienced God's grace and are filled with Christ - with his presence, his power, and his passion - to live authentic lives in their world. People are searching and longing for a meaningful, real, spiritual experience with God.
They are looking to us, watching our lives to see if we are real.
As we travel through life, may we view every occasion, situation, and problem as a prelude to fresh grace. God's word for Paul was, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9). The exciting news is that Christ's grace is indeed sufficient: sufficient for all our problems, fears, failures, trials. Welcoming his all-sufficient grace is the beginning of our quest for the authentic life.
David W. Graves is a general superintendent in the Church of the Nazarene