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The Aroma of Grace

November 10 2013
November 10 2013

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As many of you know, selling and buying a home is a deeply personal decision. Not only do we pull out our calculators when sorting out the pros and cons, but we pull out our hearts.  Purchasing a house is not just about functionality, it is about our dreams of living well.

Several years ago when Tara and I were preparing to sell our first house, we were told that the aroma of a home can help a potential buyer make a strong connection that increases their likelihood to make an offer. For this reason, we were counseled to always leave a batch of cookies warming in the oven prior to anyone visiting the house. In our case it didn’t take long; the first couple to look at the home made an offer. In fact, they are still living there today—more than ten years later. Everyone loves a home filled with the wonderful smell of freshly baked cookies!

First impressions really do make a difference; don’t they? In fact, this is especially true for churches. As Redeemer prepares to move to its new downtown home, it is absolutely essential for us to revisit the first impression we make as a church. What kind of aroma do we want to have?

From its inception, Redeemer has sought to be a place where the aroma of grace—a warm and winsome atmosphere—greets each person.  We have said that it is not enough for us to articulate the truths of the Gospel, but our convictions must be shared with love and in depth of relationship. At Redeemer, we call this becoming a warm, inviting community.

Nevertheless, this type of community is never easy. In fact, only the Holy Spirit can do it! It requires that we internalize the claims of the Gospel in a deep, deep way. It is not enough to profess the Gospel rather the Gospel must expose our deepest idols or misplaced trusts. Often times, those misplaced trusts are the focus or neediness we place on other people. This is what makes community a tricky concept. The Gospel pushes towards other people, but so does our neediness for them. Sometimes it is hard to know which of these is driving our heart.  The truth is that we will not truly be able to serve others and forge real community until we are free from unduly needing others. However, when people begin to see the real difference and freedom the Gospel is making in our lives, then we begin to “smell” different. People experience us as not needing something from them, and then take an interest in the claims Christ makes.

Of course, there are lots of avenues Redeemer provides for these first impressions to be made—worship services, community groups, Christian Education classes, bible studies and fellowship events. The important thing is not the programmed activity, but the connections people are making. What part in that connection do our lives play? Only our own, personal growth in the Gospel can answer that question!


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