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Checkpoint Summer 2021: Grace that frees

CMS missionaries Chris and Karen Webb serve at Broome Peoples Church in the Anglican Diocese of North West Australia. In this article Chris shares how grace lifts the burden of self-condemnation.

Over a cuppa, Jenny*, an Aboriginal woman from the East Kimberley, tells us that one of her nieces is now a Christian.

“How long ago did she become a Christian?” we ask excitedly. “Well, she gave up drinking about six months ago,” is Jenny’s reply.

It is common for people in Kimberley church circles to equate being a Christian with abstaining from one or more of the three ‘g’s—grog, gunja (marijuana) and gambling.

Another day we run into Jim at the shops, and he comments that he used to be a Christian but was tempted to go back to drinking. Although he firmly believes that Jesus died for him, he doesn’t think he’s a child of God at the moment because alcoholism has the better of him.

The burden of seeking righteousness

While many people understand that they need Jesus’ help, they carry the burden of thinking that they must be on top of their problems before they can come to Jesus. While many people understand that Jesus died for their sins, they carry the burden of thinking that a person can only call themselves a Christian while they
are walking the righteous road. One slip up and you’re out!

The good news of grace

When teaching the Bible in an environment where many people struggle with addiction, it’s tempting to simply urge people to change their behaviour. But that’s not where God’s good news starts. It starts with another ‘g’—grace!

The message of the Bible is that we are powerless to rid ourselves of sin. But the good news is that when we believe in Jesus, God no longer counts our sin against us. And as we go on trusting in Jesus’ done and dusted work for us each day, his Spirit will empower us to change to be more like him.

The joy in relying on God

It’s so thrilling when people in our church express a solid understanding of grace. When Matt’s relatives comment on his changed lifestyle, he tells them that it’s not because he’s better than them. He’s still a sinner like them but God has helped him change.

Martha told our congregation of the liberating moment when she realised that she was still a child of God because of Jesus, even though she didn’t feel like she was acceptable to him.

Rather than despairing when he messes up, Derek is willing to admit his wrong to others and ask them to pray for him.

Our hearts warm when we get a glimpse of our brothers and sisters’ reliance on God’s grace for their salvation and security. Pray that we too would give glimpses of that same reliance in our lives as we serve here in Broome.

PRAY

Give thanks for the ministry of Chris and Karen Webb and for the community of believers in Broome. Pray that Christians in the North West would know the truth that
they are only saved by grace.

*All names changed for privacy reasons