God’s Priorities for His Churches: Grace (5)
May God be gracious to us and bless us
and make his face to shine upon us, Selah
that your way may be known on earth,
your saving power among all nations. Psalm 67.1, 2 (ESV)
The psalm contains a prediction of Christ's kingdom, under which the whole world was to be adopted into a privileged relationship with God; but the Psalmist begins by praying for the Divine blessing, particularly upon the Jews. They were the first-born, (Exodus 4:22,) and the blessing was to terminate upon them first, and then go out to all the surrounding nations.
- John Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 67.1
The purpose of grace
Why does God show grace to His people? Why does He summon us to weekly worship, so that He might draw us into His presence, show us more of His greatness, beauty, and majesty, and declare more of His faithfulness and lovingkindness to us? Why does He command us to grow in grace, so that our discipleship fills up to overflowing with Jesus (2 Pet. 3.18; Jn. 7.37-39)? What is God’s purpose for all this grace? Is it just that we might enjoy knowing Him, and sing happy songs about all He done for us? Does God intend that this great and unceasing grace should terminate in us?
Yes, but only “first”, as Calvin says. For in the larger picture, God’s purpose is that, as grace reaches us and transforms us for good works, we should extend the grace of God to all the people in our Personal Mission Field, whether defined personally or corporately.
Here’s how Paul put it: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Cor. 9.8).
And there is an even more important purpose than the mere extending of grace to others. It is that grace thus extended, acknowledged, received, and entered into may redound to the praise of the glory of the God of grace: “Now may He who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food, supply and multiply the seed you have sown and increase the fruits of your righteousness, while you are enriched in everything for all liberality, which causes thanksgiving through us to God. For the administration of this service not only supplies the needs of the saints, but also is abounding through many thanksgivings to God, while, through the proof of this ministry, they glorify God for the obedience of your confession to the gospel of Christ, and for your liberal sharing with them and all men, and by their prayer for you, who long for you because of the exceeding grace of God in you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift!” (2 Cor. 9.10-15)
The purpose of grace is mission, and the purpose of mission is grace unto praise and thanksgiving.
The nature of mission
The people who know the grace of God are a people for mission. Filled increasingly with God’s grace, we go to our world day by day to extend the grace of God to others. We want them to realize the grace God is already showing them, and to acknowledge His grace, especially the grace He has shown us in Jesus Christ, so that they might join us in praising God and as agents of grace to a grace-needing world.
Jesus came as the Missionary of Grace from God, to bring near the Kingdom of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Spirit. He did this by gracious works and grace-filled words. And He promised that those who come to know His grace would do greater works than He had done and would proclaim the message of grace to all nations.
As the Father sent Jesus, so Jesus sends us. Every day. In every situation. Agents of grace to lubricate the hard places and tight squeezes of life with the tender mercies and matchless truths of God.
We are that people, sent to our world to show and tell the grace of Jesus in everything we do and say. Nothing in our lives is exempt from our calling as agents of grace in the Kingdom and glory of God. All that we are, say, and do; everywhere we go; all our relationships, roles, and responsibilities – all being enriched daily by the grace of God become resources and contexts for extending God’s grace to the people we encounter each day. We are not our own. We have been bought with a price, and we belong to the Missionary of Grace, to do with as He pleases.
We are a people on mission, filled with grace, showing grace, and proclaiming grace so that the way of God may be known on earth, His salvation to all nations. For then, as we fulfill our mission, all the peoples of the earth will praise and thank the Lord of grace, and thus become even more fully and richly endowed with grace themselves (Ps. 67.3).
Personal Mission Field
Everyone has a Personal Mission Field, a sphere of being and influence where we come as agents of grace to show and tell what Jesus has done for us. Paul refers to this in 2 Corinthians 10.13-16 as a sphere in which we boast about the Lord, talking freely and animatedly about His grace and truth. It’s our assigned field for taking Jesus to the world, building others up in Him, and enlisting them into the community of grace, praise, thanksgiving, and mission. Jesus has sent us to this Personal Mission Field as His agents of grace, to make the most of every opportunity for spreading grace to the world.
Every church has a Personal Mission Field as well. It is defined by the community in which that church is located, and the needs and opportunities for grace that community presents. Churches that do not think of themselves as fountains of grace for their communities will invest most of their energies in themselves, creating programs, building facilities, and hiring staff to help ensure the best possible Christian experience for all who attend.
But if churches fail to embrace the harvest field of their local community as a primary focus of their raison d’etre, they will frustrate that reason for being and block more of the flow of God’s grace into congregational life.
We who are the recipients of God’s grace are also called to be agentsof grace to the world. All our worship and disciple-making must fit us for this calling, or we will miss the true purpose and richest blessing of grace altogether.
Are you a joy-bringer? What about your people?
Order copies of our booklet, Joy to Your World! for all your church leaders. Use it to teach them how to begin thinking and living more consistently as agents of grace to their world. Order your copies by clicking here.
Prayer for Revival
“And here it is to be remembered, that every benefit which God bestowed upon his ancient people was, as it were, a light held out before the eyes of the world, to attract the attention of the nations to him. From this the Psalmist argues, that should God liberally supply the wants of his people, the consequence would be, to increase the fear of his name, since all ends of the earth would, by what they saw of his fatherly regard to his own, submit themselves with greater cheerfulness to his government.”
- Calvin, Commentary on Psalm 67.6
Please prayerfully consider sharing with The Fellowship of Ailbe through your giving. You can contribute to The Fellowship by clicking the Contribute button at the website or by sending your gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452.
T. M. Moore
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Unless otherwise indicated, quotes from Church fathers are from The Ancient Christian Commentary Series (InterVarsity Press).