Fallen From Grace?
As we geared up for our first “Hunger Games 2016” event, our expectations and anxiety were high. We were taking a big risk as a ministry. This was a risk we felt lead by the Lord to take, but nevertheless a risk. Any event downtown is a risk for us, because many of our Pub Theology faithful that attend events and bring people with them are “northsiders”. Trying to pack 30,000 meals at one event is something we have never done before. We believed one hundred percent in creating an environment of purpose and servanthood, but we had never done this before. Their was the financial risk of the meals and the venue.
I’m a risk taker and a spiritual/Kingdom entrepreneur, but even I was praying hard approaching this night. One of the cool factors working in our favor, was the fact that the night before our event we were able to book The Aaron Pelsue Band to play for a party of 1,200 firefighters. This gig was in the same venue, with the same people at the same time our event would be 24 hours later. We were hoping that this would produce a great return crowd ready to help us party with a purpose the next night. I mean with 32,000 firefighters downtown for the FDIC convention you would think you could get a few hundred to show up!? Well, we didn’t!
As our event started on Thursday night, so did the rain. Not just a sprinkle. Not just a shower. It rained sheets, buckets, cats and dogs of rain. So much rain you might start thinking you needed a canoe to get home! On top of the rain, there was another party right around the corner from us with free beer and free food all night. That party had about 10,000 attend. We did not.
So about an hour into our first ever big risk “Hunger Games” event, you can imagine how discouraged I was. Then a firefighter I recognized from the night before walked in. Let's call him "Bob from Buffalo" to protect the privacy of the moment. I greet Bob with a big hug and welcome him back. I had met Bob 24 hours earlier at the event we got Aaron booked at. Our conversation that night started like this. “Well, faith, hope, love and beer! That sounds like a really cool concept. Sounds like something someone like me might need?” He said. “Oh yeah? Why do you say that?” I asked. “Well, sounds good for a guy like me, you know, I’m just a firefighter who has fallen from grace.” He said.
His statement once again reminded me exactly why we take the risks we do with Pub Theology. His statement seared into my heart why we MUST keep taking the love of Jesus outside the walls of the church and back into the spaces and places of everyday life! “Fallen from Grace, huh? I don’t think that’s possible. Do you?” I asked. “Well, I don’t know? I just mean, I’m…you know a little rough around the edges.” Bob responded with a sense of shame and humility in his eyes. “Hey Bob, I think it’s impossible to “fall from grace”, in fact I think you might just be falling deeper into it.” I said. “How about you come back tomorrow night and help us create some hope! Come to our party with a purpose tomorrow night and help us pack 30,000 meals! We can talk more about grace.”
Now you understand my joy when Bob showed back up. He packed meals with us all night. We talked about one of his buddies that lives here locally that he said, “Could really use this hope in his life.” We talked about one of his friends from back home that is a pastor. Bob wanted to share with him what we were doing. He thought maybe they could get something planned that would allow him to be apart of bringing faith, hope, love and GRACE to his friends back home!
Did we have a “Packed house”? No. Did I feel really discouraged by the turn out? Yes. Was it worth it to help Bob see that he can NEVER fall from grace, but only deeper into it? Yes, I think so.
SO...what about you? Do you see yourself as "Fallen from Grace"? Do you believe that you are beyond the love and forgiveness of God? You see the amazing thing about Grace is that you can't earn it. In fact you don't deserve it at all. If free. As Bono says, "It's a name for a girl, its also a thought that changed the world". It's a thought and a reality that Jesus and only Jesus introduced to the world.
A friend of mine once defined Grace as "primarily giving oneself to others". I love that definition. Grace is about presence. Grace is about relationship. That's why Jesus is grace. His arrival on earth. Jesus's death, resurrection and current eternal life reach out to us and offer relationship. He doesn't offer laws, rules or even just a clean slate. The grace of Jesus offers us, Jesus. Right here, right now in the midst of our broken, confused, and "I just can't seem to stop screwing it up" selves.
It is that aggressive and loving pursuit that finds you "falling into grace" everyday, not out of it!
Here's something to ponder: If you can't "fall from Grace, but only deeper into Grace" how would that change your approach to God? How would it change your perception of his approach to you?