Transformed by Grace

Chapter 8 of The Holiness Manifesto is “Transformed by Grace: The Beauty of Personal Holiness” by Cheryl Bridges Johns. Johns is a professor of Christian Formation at the Church of God Theological Seminary.

She talks broadly about John Wesley’s approach to a transforming (sanctifying) grace, as well as the types of grace we experience/receive. She then goes on to list and briefly discuss each of the “Instituted” means of grace (those we see in the life of Christ), and the “Prudential” means of grace (fulfilling social and relational aspects of the gospel).

I think she does a great job in each of the means. She discusses prayer in a way that makes you hungry to spend some time in genuine prayer before/with God. She talks about fasting in a way that makes you hungry to experience hunger. She reminds us that Scriptures can be very moving and literary, rather than simply studied. She takes us through Wesley’s appreciation for the Lord’s Supper, and Christian community – including the high emphasis he placed on small groups.

She closes with some more comments on the prudential means of grace, such as charity and mercy. She takes a close look at what occurs when we experience a “crisis” moment in our life, and how it can lead to growth in grace. The way she presents it really challenges the norms of how we handle crisis today. Especially we masculine types.

We’re encouraged to be tough. To be solid. But if we follow Wesley, and many other Christian theologians (including Paul himself – Romans 5:3-5)….to not allow ourselves to fully experience crisis, is to short change a potentially very transforming experience of God. To pretend too quickly that “we’re okay”, or to swallow our emotions so we can live as if we’re “beyond that already”, could be missing an incredible opportunity for our very soul.

May we continue to seek such means of receiving transformational grace….both the ones we look forward to…and the experiences we may not have chosen….God offers to redeem/use both areas…

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