There are reminders of God's lavish grace all around us. That is, if we're willing to look. As a pastor, ironically, I sometimes forget to preach the gospel to myself. While I preach the gospel to others weekly, I forget to preach it to myself more than I care to admit. This is why any opportunity to see grace in the mundane is so welcome to a forgetful heart like mine.
For the last year, the church I pastor has been restoring an old church building in hopes to make it our new campus in the near future. I’m thankful for this old building because it has continually reminded me of God's grace.
How can a brick and mortar building remind me of God’s grace?
Well, this building was at one time the “place to be.” Full of worshippers, choirs, and events. Bustling with activity and potential. But, over time, it was labeled unredeemable, unusable, not worth the trouble. It was a nice building externally, but internally it had too many problems. Who could want it?
It was put up for sale, but still, no one really wanted it because of the cost. Again, it wasn't worth it. What it needed was an outside force to see it as something beautiful and worth the cost to redeem.
So my church acquired the building and prayerfully decided it would become our future main campus. It would cost a lot of money and, over the last year, it has cost my members literal blood, sweat, and tears. Sounds a bit like the gospel, doesn't it?
At times, we all forget the gospel and can conclude that we aren't worth the trouble. Outside we look fine, but inside we are such a mess. Who could want us? Relationships we place our hopes in fail to redeem us, addictions fail to fill us up, and we seem (and feel) not worth redemption.
But an outside Force has come and deemed us worthy of the trouble. Jesus sees us as something beautiful, and worthy of blood, sweat, and tears. Jesus sees our potential and, even if no one else wants us, even if others give up on us, Jesus never will. Like Paul, we might even say, “I’m the chief of sinners,” but unlike Paul, we might forget the “this is why Jesus came into the world” part.
He came into the world because He thought we were worth it. It does not matter if we think we’re worth it; He thinks we are. It does not matter who, in the past, thought that building was not worth it; we think it is.
I wonder if that building had a conscience if it would have said, “No one wants me. They look, but they pass me up. Maybe, I’m not worth much.” And maybe you think like that sometimes, too. Praise be to God that that is not true. An outside force has come and has said, “You’re worth it no matter what anyone else says, and no matter even how you feel.” I tend to forget that when I lean on my own performance and failures.
When I forget the gospel, perhaps I should remember this old brick building.