Wednesday, March 10, 2010

ABC's and 123's

My friend and co-host of Growing in Grace, Mike Kapler and I have often talked together about how we purposely stay focused on the ABC's and 123's of the gospel of God's grace and peace.  We intentionally keep it simple and we stay focused on the foundational, elementary aspects life in Christ. This includes our identity in Christ and it includes a view of grace not as simply a "topic" to be covered now and then but as the very essence of every last aspect of life in Christ.

This is also what Grace Roots is to me at it's core.  As far back as I can remember, ever since I began growing in grace myself, my desire has always been to stay focused on getting rooted, grounded and established in the fertile soil of God's grace. Hebrews says that "it is good that the heart be established in grace."  But to some, grace is simply one topic of many in the Christian life.  We can talk about 'law' one week and 'giving' the next week and then 'marriage' the next week, and we'll make sure we cover the "topic" of grace in there sometime as well.  But I don't think we should do that.  I believe there are many people who have been in church for a long time, who know all the "topics" of life in Christ, but are not rooted and established in grace.

Some would say the "topic" of grace is nice, and is indeed necessary to talk about, but we eventually need to "move on" to other things.  But again, I would say that grace is the essence of life in Christ, and you cannot look into any corner, nook or cranny in your life in Christ without it necessarily being saturated in grace.  Apart from Christ we can do nothing and in Him we can do all things.  That is the essence of the living out of the Christian life, and that is all about grace!  The Apostle Paul said plainly, "by the grace of God I am what I am," and he said that all his labors were not even his labors - it was the grace of God at work in him.

Using the English language, whether you spell out a simple sentence such as "I am Sam," or whether you spell out a sentence that includes all the letters of the alphabet such as, "The quick red fox jumps over the lazy brown dog," there is one particular thing at the core of it all:  a necessity of the use of the alphabet (the ABC's).  Whether you want to use the English language to spell the biblical city of Ai or the Welch village of Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (an actual community in Wales), again at the root is the same thing - the alphabet.  And when it comes to numbers, you'll get nowhere with either 1 + 1 or 4,986,156 x 569,549 unless you have a basic understanding of the numbers 0 through 9.

Although my illustration may perhaps be found lacking, as many illustrations do, the point is that just as no part of spelling or mathematics can be done apart from the ABC's and 123's, you also cannot live any part of your life in Christ apart from the grace of God.  The simple ABC's and 123's are the foundation for every word and sentence and mathematical equation, and in the same way the grace of God is the root and foundation and essence of everything in our lives in Christ.

What I've found - and this could be a whole 'nother blog post or three - is that many Christians do not even seem to have a basic understanding of God's grace and their identity in Christ.  Many Christians do not seem to be established in grace.  I don't say this patronizingly by any means.  It's just that the truth of the pure grace and unconditional love of God are not necessarily being taught as the foundation of life in Christ in many places.  Again, they are 'subjects' that are taught about or given mention now and then, but only as one topic of many, and then the church "moves on" to other "topics," and therefore people do not get the much needed opportunity to become grounded in grace.

And so... that is why Kap and I have, for five years, continued to keep the conversation simple.  We understand that there are certain "topics" in the Christian life that are worth discussing.  We understand that we could always branch off into certain "deeper" issues, and sometimes we do.  But throughout it all, we've remained focused on the ABC's and 123's, and so far we're nowhere near to exhausting our thoughts and reflections on the pure grace and unconditional love of God!  One wonderful fruit of all this is that this pure and simple message, in and of itself, causes freedom transformation in the lives of Christians like we've never seen or experienced in all our previous combined years of law- and performance-based teachings!


  1. Wow that's encouraging to read, as I was only recently asked to why I felt it necessary to only focus on this one 'topic'!

    Narrowminded - they thinks - single minded more like - me thinks!

  2. Great post, Joel, and so true.