The Church, and individual Christians, exist in a State of Grace. That is who we are. It is our (new) birthright. It is our frame of reference. The implications of this are huge. And yet, our response oft times seems invisible. It seems as though the Church and individual Christians, including me, fall out of a State of Grace. I don't mean that we lose our salvation. I mean that we forget our salvation; that we "neglect so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3).
There are two implications that have occurred to me. I'm sure there are many more. But in light of the Church's state of grace, we must be 1) gracious and 2) generous. As faith reflects itself in faithfulness, so grace will reflect itself in graciousness. And since grace is free, it must be generous.
What does a gracious and generous church look like? What does a gracious and generous Christian look like? And, perhaps more importantly, how have you seen a lack of graciousness and generosity displayed in my life and yours, in our church and yours? Because the act of responding in faith and graciousness necessarily involves repentance, a turning away from actions and patterns that are marked by bitterness, negativity, judgmentalism and selfishness.
Just as the concept of "the love of God" can be distorted by using it as a weapon against God's wrath or righteousness, so "gracious" might be twisted into meaning that we can make no judgments or distinctions, and "generous" means that we can never say "no." That is a problem. But let's let it be a later problem. Our present problem is that I and the church of which I am a part are not so gracious as God is full of grace, and not generous in an abounding sort of way.