It’s a term that has been part of life since my early days. I have been part of the “Grace” Brethren fellowship since I was born. I went to “Grace” College. I even memorized the acrostic for GRACE (God’s Richest at Christ’s Expense). However, I don’t think I completely understood its complete manifestation until I the day I forgot to make sure the right program was loaded on a computer.
I had accompanied my boss, a dean at a major university, to an important presentation. I had prepared a slide presentation that I would operate while she spoke. I was confident the file was on the laptop and ready to be shown, though I hadn’t check to be sure it was the correct one.
It made the dean look bad, though in her gracefulness it wasn’t apparent to the untrained eye.
I was mortified.
On the way back to the office, I offered my resignation.
She wouldn’t accept it.
“Everyone makes mistakes,” she said quietly.
I didn’t deserve her grace. I had failed in my duty. Her predecessor would not have given me a chance to resign. He would have fired me without a thought. Yet this woman offered mercy, a pardon, if you will.
Grace is an important part of who we are as the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches (FGBC). It’s something we should not forget as we move forward as a fellowship.
God showed grace when He covered my mistakes, my sins, by giving His son on the cross. It didn’t matter that the sin was one of neglecting God-given responsibilities, which don’t seem as bad as breaking the God-given commandments, you know, the serious ones, like murder, adultery, or stealing. He didn’t to that just for me – he did it for everyone!
It’s that very grace the founders of the Grace Brethren movement were thinking of when they chose a name for a new seminary. They looked to Ephesians 2:8, 9: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast” (NIV).
When a group of congregations decided they wanted to identify with the new seminary and to practice their faith according to conscience, they likewise chose the name grace.
Today, many Grace Brethren congregations retain the term grace while shedding denominational labels that seem less important. It still points people to the blood-bought story of Jesus and his redeeming love. In a larger context, it has come to symbolize the open hand that we hold as we live our faith in a needy world. It represents the reality we are less likely to turn our backs on the unlovely, the needy, and the down-trodden in the process. — Liz Cutler Gates
What is your story of grace? Share your story in the comments below.
(This story was first shared in the GraceConnect eNews, No. 1. Subscribe here.)