“Where sin abounded, grace abounded much more” (Romans 5:20).

Every human being is, by nature, obsessed with self. This includes you and me. Self-centeredness is deeply rooted in us, partly by inheritance and partly by cultivation. This condition traces back to the Fall of humankind. When Adam and Eve sinned, they introduced into human character the principle of selfishness. In the words of Ellen White, “Selfishness took the place of love” (Steps to Christ, p. 17). As a result, all human beings are innately oriented toward processing their experiences in life with reference to self.

A vital part of the remedy for our self-obsession is what Jesus called “the church” (Matthew 16:18). The word for “church” is ekklēsia in Greek, which means called out, by implication, to form a new gathering or assembly of people for purposes distinct from the default purposes of the world in general.

The default social operating system of the world is meritocracy. You work, you earn, you get what you deserve. The church is called out of that system to be different. Ponder this take:

The church exists to be a refuge of grace in a hostile world…

“The church of Christ, enfeebled and defective as she may appear, is the one object on earth on which He bestows in a special sense His love and regard. The church is the theater of grace, in which He delights to make experiments of mercy on human hearts” (Our High Calling, p. 172).

With our self-centeredness, each of us is part of the feeble defectiveness of the church, and each of us is, therefore, a scientific subject upon which God is experimenting with mercy. The matter under observation in the church is this: What effect does mercy have upon people when they fail? Well, it heals us.

The church exists to be a refuge of grace in a hostile world addicted to self-centeredness, merit, judgment, and cancellation. As we come together as a community of believers, we experiment on one another with mercy, as we have been the objects of God’s mercy. We draw close to one another when we fail rather than kicking one another to the curb with condemnation. This is one of the crucial factors that makes the church different from the world and transforms our selfish natures.

If the church is not an experimental laboratory of mercy, then it is not living up to its high calling in Christ. As part of the living church of Christ, may you show mercy, not condemnation, in everything you do.

Ty Gibson
Speaker/Director at Light Bearers

Ty is a speaker/director of Light Bearers. A passionate communicator with a message that opens minds and moves hearts, Ty teaches on a variety of topics, emphasizing God’s unfailing love as the central theme of the Bible. Ty and his wife Sue have three adult children and two grandsons.