“In Christ, we enter the society of the gifted. We enter a body of people dripping with supernatural powers that are far beyond what they deserve. If we are free of the slavery of coercion, then we no longer receive anything because we earned it. If all is gift, we receive everything on the basis of blessing and love, not merit and worthiness. In fact, our gifting in Christ is so distinct that Paul warns us not to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think (Romans 12:3), not only because we suddenly have power to stop transgressing the law’s standards of behavioral righteousness but because we are gifted beyond measure with distinct gifts. We are the vessels of supernatural wisdom, power, and insight so overwhelming that we are tempted to think we are almost gods. What Paul is saying is that we are to live for and mesh harmoniously with each other in the practice of being gifted to bless each other. We are given gifts in order to give them, and giving is far more blessed and satisfying than hoarding and possessing.” (The Romance of Grace, pg 109)

romance-of-graceThe breakout session hosted by me, Jim McNeely the Humble (I was a professional magician for about 10 years, and this really was one of my official monikers–who knows, I might even do a magic trick),  focused on chapter 8 of my book The Romance of Grace. When we enter by faith into this grace in which we stand (Romans 5:1-2) we enter into a universe which operates as a gift culture, not as a merit culture. We enter the society of the powerfully gifted, because the barriers to blessing have been removed by Christ’s cross. If someone were a virtuoso musician, there is no way she would be satisfied with sitting in a practice closet for her whole life, never sharing her musical awesomeness! Christian living cannot be envisioned outside of community, because giftedness finds it meaning in being shared. As it says in 1 John 4:7, “Beloved (Agapetos), love (agapao) each other!” We are greatly loved and given the gifting and power to love each other. Community gives meaning to our giftedness, but Christ’s blood must be at the center of our relationships lest our sense of justice and wrath rule our vision of each other.

This session details the insights from chapter 8 of The Romance of Grace combined with insights from the book of 1 John which concern the relationship between Christ’s propitiation, our personal belovedness, and the love we have for each other in Christian community. As others have said that Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions is required reading, I say that Copernicus’ book De Revolutionibus Erbium Coelestium is required reading for this session; special blessing goes to those who read it in the original Latin! If not, you should at least read Aquinas’ Summa Theologica. Or, and I hope this isn’t too self-serving, just buy a copy of The Romance of Grace and read chapter 8. It’s lucky I’m so humble!

You may listen to the session below or download the file by clicking here.