Grace Is the Goal

Approximately 100 people joined Pastor Zhenya and me last Thursday for our first Bible Challenge 2022 discussion group. In-person and over Zoom, we discussed our thoughts, experiences, and questions that arose after beginning our January with the commitment to read either the entire Bible or the New Testament over the year. I ended the time together with this simple statement: “Remember, the goal of reading the Bible over the year is not that you will learn more or understand more. That is a happy byproduct, but it’s not the goal.” If learning or understanding isn’t the goal, then what is? 

Transforming Grace 

A central tenet of our faith is that transformation in our lives comes through the grace of Christ, not through our own hard work or effort. This is hard for those who are “doers” or achievement-oriented. I always explain this with a simple illustration: find the calmest, most joyful, most spiritually healthy Christian you know, and ask them how they got that way. None of them will say their spiritual life grew because they tried harder or did more. Instead, they will always give some version of the same story—they began to open their life up to Christ, to really take his love for them seriously. Then He started a transforming work in their lives. That’s the way the story is always told because that’s the way it really happens.

The goal of reading all of the Bible over the year isn’t to learn more or understand more, though of course that will occur naturally. The purpose of a focused, committed time of scripture reading over the course of the year is to establish a daily, extended encounter with the grace of Christ. Like we say each Sunday after reading from the Bible, “God speaks to us through the reading of scripture.” Setting aside time to encounter God through the daily reading of scripture creates vast opportunities for our hearts to experience grace. We learn and understand, but we are also open to the Christ who transforms us.

Kudos to those engaged in Bible Challenge 2022, and it’s not too late for everyone else to join us! May your life open anew to the always-working grace of Christ.

God bless y’all, 


Rev. Lance Marshall
Co-Senior Pastor

bible challenge 2022

 

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