Pervasive Grace

Pervasive Grace cover for post

Be kind to one another, tenderhearted,

forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:32, The Apostle Paul

At All Souls Church we intend to have a culture of “Pervasive Grace” for sinners and sufferers. This is a core value to the church and will determine how we shape the culture over the years. My favorite definition of grace comes from the Episcopal Theologian Paul Zahl:

“What is grace? Grace is one way love…

Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unlovable. It is being loved when you are the opposite of lovable….Grace is a love that has nothing to do with you, the beloved. It has everything and only to do with the lover. Grace is irrational in the sense that it has nothing to do with weights and measures. It has nothing to do with my intrinsic qualities or so-called “gifts” (whatever they may be). It reflects a decision on the part of the giver, the one who loves, in relation to the receiver, the one who is loved, that negates any qualifications the receiver may personally hold.”

In other words, grace is free, unconstrained and offered without limit. It is, as Zahl says, “One Way Love,” the greatest need in the world for humans. The only way to hear it and find it is when you are on your knees or at the bottom and wrestling with the broken parts of life.

What if our church was a place people could come and be loved unconditionally? What if we committed to love each other and our city not with earned love or pity, but unearned care and compassion. Now imagine with me a church future where that kind of love was…  


   Pervasive : existing in or spreading through every part of something 


Like a pervasive aroma that dominates every part of a house, grace is in the air. Grace is taught and caught. “Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God” (Eph. 5:2). We carry this fragrant aroma in a culture of grace that is found in everyday life.

The apostle Paul seems to think there are two movements to this kind of love:

“Forgiving each other” and “Be kind to one another”

Forgive Sins: forgive personality disorders, forgive differences, forgive, preferences, forgive differing perspectives, forgive annoying temperament traits, forgive ethnic tensions, forgive immaturities, forgive mistakes, forgive when you are left out, forgive when you are invited (introverts), forgive a bad day, or a bad week, or year, forgive addictions, forgive reactions. Forgive

Be kind: Kindness is active, kindness seeks the other out, kindness is generous, kindness gives, kindness notices, kindness prays, kindness goes out of its way, kindness seeks the joy of the other, kindness considers the situation of the other, kindness isn’t keeping score, kindness is not comparing everyone, kindness celebrates the success of the other, kindness provides for the needs of the other, kindness serves, kindness lives in a posture of blessing.

So where do we get the power and motivation for this kind of life? What will give me the strength to keep getting up when I fail? Where is there a vision for the world I can lean into?

“As God in Christ forgave you,” as our Lord Jesus is kind to you by the power of God’s Spirit so by God’s power (power that goes beyond you) lean into grace.

Let’s make it pervasive at All Souls!

Grace and peace,

Pastor Harvey