Mercy vs Grace
Last night in our Tuesday Night Bible Study we were wrestling with the difference between "mercy" and "grace." Many religions espouse mercy, but only one offers grace.
There are many ways to describe the difference (the picture accompanying this post is one: only in Christianity does God himself enter into a rebellious world as a member of a rebellious race in order to die so that their rebellion might be forgotten). Perhaps a good one is the experience of the apostle Paul.
The apostle Paul started out as a faithful Pharisee and enthusiastic persecutor of the church of Jesus. It was only when Jesus confronted him on the road to Damascus that he realised his error. But because of the grace of Christ, Paul didn't merely become a follower of Christ, he became an apostle: one who travelled the world persuading people of the need to give their lives to Jesus.
God's mercy would have, perhaps, stretched to forgiving Paul his horrible persecution of the church. God's grace, however, transformed Paul into one of his most influential servants!
When we talk about our second value, "Gracious Community," we're talking about a community that is filled with the power of God so that its members are transformed from rebels into relatives, from sinners into sons, and from captives into conquerors. Only Christ can do that!