“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and forever! Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18 (NIV)
As I prepare for our church’s annual business meeting next weekend, my thoughts surround the phrase “Growing in Grace”. This ‘slogan’ is the theme our leaders have adopted to characterize ministry for the coming year. As a church we are committing ourselves to growing – in wisdom, in Spirit, and in numbers – with a growth marked by grace. Like the Apostle Paul, we are admonishing one another to grow in the grace (and knowledge) of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
Defining the word “growing” is a relatively simple task. It means that we are increasing, expanding and developing. The Church, and Calvary as its local representation, should be increasing in knowledge of the Scripture, expanding in ministry to the congregation and community and developing in the disciplines and fruits of faithfulness. We ought to be increasing in our outreach to the lost, expanding in our expressions of love and developing in our worship of Christ. Growth was a hallmark of the early church – when God added to their numbers daily those being saved – and it must remain a hallmark of the church today.
Defining the word “grace” is a bit more challenging. The Greek word ‘charis’ is used roughly 170 times in the Bible. In its most simple sense, grace is a gift – something given that is undeserved, unearned and unmerited. Oftentimes grace refers to a specific gift, namely the blessing or favor of God which – being a gift – is, again, undeserved, unearned and unmerited. As we think of the church, our references to grace come from the unmerited blessings of God which allow for our adoption, redemption and reunion with Him – all because He desires that we come to know Him.
Our commitment to growing in grace is therefore multifaceted. In one way, growing in grace means that we are committed to accepting and applying the great gift of God’s blessings in new and ever increasing ways. In another way, growing in grace means that we are committed to acting in concert with grace as we grow; in other words, that our growth will come as an outflow of our experiencing God’s grace. In yet another way, growing in grace means that we are committed to developing ministries that extend and expand God’s grace to others. These are the acts and attitudes the people of God ought to embrace.
As ambassadors of the Living God, join us as we commit to “growing in grace”. May this be the year that His unmerited favor, His great gift of unconditional love and reconciliation, be shown in ever increasing measure and that the world may be witnesses to His amazing grace.