Douglas Jacobsen and (now deceased) Rodney J. Sawatsky have co-published a wondrous little book called Gracious Christianity: Living the Love We Profess (Baker, 2006). The book is short, but that won’t stop me from savoring each chapter with separate posts. I will admit that any book that sees the gospel in terms of God’s grace that prompts us to act in gracious ways strikes a note of resonance with me, and that is what I worked out in Embracing Grace. So, I admit I’m biased. But I’d be convinced even if I weren’t.
Grace, the authors say, is the experience of receiving God’s love, and graciousness is our externalizing a grace that is internalized in us. Here’s a very good point: graciousness is “love offered truly lovingly” (19). It is respectful; it is not smothering love; it is not invasive or overwhelming. And true graciousness also knows how to receive love because it is, after all, a graciousness that begins with God’s loving grace.
How do we become more gracious? Jacobsen/Sawatsky suggest, rather importantly, that it is more than habituation (which is the Aristotelian legacy in spiritual formation) and involves the reception of a deeper more penetrating theology. So they offer a theology for gracious Christianity.
Jacobsen/Sawatsky work first with the Jesus Creed (yep, they call it that), filter theology through that creed, and then they look into McLaren’s Generous Orthodoxy and conclude this introductory chp with a plea for Christians of all stripes to be more concerned with living out a gracious Christianity.
How about this for a stunning statement in the final paragraph to the first chp:
“Christians currently account for almost one-third of the world’s people, two billion out of a global population of just over six billion. If the faith professed by those two billion Christians became even a little more gracious, the dynamics of the world community could be changed dramatically for the better” (26).
“In fact, God has for the most part chosen to change the world by layering small grace upon small grace, and living graciously as Christians allows us to assist in that work.”