Yesterday, I was reading an essay by Stanley Hauerwas entitled ‘salvation even in sin’ within this essay Hauerwas reflects upon Ephesians 4:25-5:2 and draws links between our ability to speak truthfully about our lives and our understanding of sin and grace.
The same day, I had the great privilege to be given a preview of the next fresh expressions DVD, which features talking heads with Graham Horsley, Graham Carter, and Martyn Atkins. I was struck by something Martyn said about our failure to effectively disciple people over past hundred years. ‘How is it’, he remonstrated, ‘that people can go to church their entire lives and the something happens and fifty years of discipleship goes out the window?’
I suspect we find part of the answer in Ephesians 4:25 – 5:2. Sadly, the church has become a place where people put up the barriers. Instead of being real about the struggles we have faced, we smile and say things like ‘I’m great thanks’ even when things have not been good at all. I guess sometimes this is because we are scared of being honest about our struggles; we are afraid of speaking truthfully about our lives, and when somebody does, very often they receive condemnation rather than grace.
I believe in holistic small groups not because small group discipleship is the flavour of the week but because it seems to be the starting place for learning to speak truthfully to one another, to radiate grace. Not the otherworldly grace, which knows no sin, but the real gritty grace illustrated most eloquently in the cross of Christ.
Help us to speak more truthfully about ourselves,
And enable us to listen to one another with grace.
Let us be slow to anger but quick to forgive,
And surround us with your love.
Be with us now,
In the coming minutes,
And help us to know your will.
We ask this in the power of the Holy Spirit,
And trusting in the love of Christ,
Your Son, our Saviour.
* In work at the moment I’m organising a conference entitled, ‘Creating Effective Disciples; through small groups’ it is designed to resource and encourage churches and leaders with small group ministries. It will be run at High Leigh in Hertfordshire on the 13th and 14th March, for more information, send me an email by clicking here.