Ripples of Grace
Do you remember ever skipping rocks across a pond or lake when you were growing up? Most of us have probably at least attempted to skip a rock across the water at some point in our lives. Whether you were a successful rock skipper or not, what was the one thing that always happened every time the rock made impact with the water? Ripples were made. Unless the pond is frozen, every time something touches the water, some kind of ripple is made that radiates outward from the point of impact.
This Sunday I challenged my church to consider how that principle could be true in the life of the Christian. Most of us come into contact with other people every day. Thanks to COVID and the increase in working from home, the contact we make now might seem less frequent than in the past. Regardless of the frequency, each time we interact with other people, we make an impact. My question to you is, “What kind of impact are you making? What kind of ripples radiate from your presence in the community?”
Before you start pondering what kind of impact you have on others, you should stop and think about the reason for your impact. Why should you…or do you have an impact on those around you? Your answer will be based on the desired goal you have in mind. A drug dealer is going to impact those around him so that his product gets sold and his clients become addicted. The humanist will try to impact those around him so that they come to agree with the man-centered, self-fulfillment purpose of life. Why does the Christian try to make an impact in the lives of others? Great question! I’m so glad you asked.
The Apostle Paul answers this great question in his short letter to Titus. Paul calls the Believers in the church on the island of Crete, as well as you and me, to live godly lives. If you read through Chapter 2 you will find a list of behaviors outlined for every member of the Christian community. No one is left out. Every member has a role to play. Older men, older women, younger women, and younger men are all called out and given a list of behaviors to follow. These behaviors are not to be followed just for the sake of being “good.” Being “good” isn’t really in our nature. At least not in our sinful nature. The only thing good about us is that God loves us and sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sins and reconcile us to God. Any goodness in us is all because of, and the product of, grace.
So, why does Paul give this list of behaviors? So that when the world looks at the church: God’s Word would not be reviled, the gospel would not be condemned, our opponents would be put to shame having nothing evil to say about us, and so that the beauty of the gospel would be highlighted in our community (Titus 2:5-10).
Followers of Christ are to make a daily gospel impact on their community and in the lives of all we meet. When a Christian comes into contact with someone in the community, the ripples of grace radiating from us should be evident and long lasting. We are enabled to make a gospel impact in our community when we understand and live out good theology. That is why Paul begins Chapter 2 of his letter to Titus by calling Titus to teach what sound, healthy doctrine is and the model of what it looks like. As Titus teaches sound theology to the church, he is to call every member of the local church to live out the sound doctrines that he has modeled and that they have embraced.
As Titus teaches and models good theology, every person is addressed, and every member of the Christian community was to be held accountable for living out the same sound doctrine taught by Titus and the Apostles. Why did Paul want Titus to address men and women from every age group? Because we all have a role to play in the local church. In order for the church to make the impact in the community it was designed for, the Believers in the church need to be spiritually healthy and grounded in the truth of Scripture.
What you find true for the individual will also be true for the whole congregation. When the individual Christian embraces and lives out sound doctrine, the fruit borne is righteous living that will make a gospel impact in the community. The same is true for the church. A spiritually healthy church, grounded in the truth of Scripture, is to leave behind intentional ripples of grace each time impact is made with the community.
Why do you think there is such an emphasis in the New Testament about sound or healthy doctrine? I mean people like Paul and Titus were a lot closer to the time of Jesus than we are. You would think things like error and wrong teaching would not have taken root so quickly. Think again. The Apostle Paul had to fight against all kinds of wrong theology and ungodly living in the church. One thing is true of every false teacher that Paul encountered. Everything that the false teachers said and did was causing people to deny God. We have the same issue today. When false teachers arise and are given a platform to speak, they are enticing people to deny God. The sinful world and the very culture in which we live is echoing their cause. Christian beware, the world is doing all it can to convince you and your neighbors to deny God.
Believers! The Word of God is calling us to not let that happen!
God is too worthy, and the gospel is too beautiful to let our friends and neighbors be deceived into denying God!
Whether you realize it or not, if you are a Christian then you are representing Jesus to the people with whom you interact. If we are representing Jesus, then our behavior must accurately reflect the truth of the Savior whom we represent.
When we connect with the community in which we live, the ripples created by our presence are to be grace-filled and gospel-saturated.
What kind of ripples did you make today? In what ways did you impact those around you for Jesus today?