OMS’ beliefs have been heavily influenced by the Anglican Priest and founder of Methodism, John Wesley. Wesley had a distinct and clear understanding of God’s grace, which “can be defined as the love and mercy given to us by God because God wants us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it” (Our Wesleyan Heritage, UMC.org). Wesley described grace in three movements: prevenient, justifying, and sanctifying. While justifying and sanctifying grace are incredibly important, prevenient grace is what this blog is focused on. Grace is active in our lives, and God is constantly stirring up that grace inside of us and empowering us to choose Him. God has taken the initiative in searching us out and gives us this grace as a gift, also giving us a choice to respond to it, as he did with Adam and Eve.
Why do we need to talk about theology, prevenient grace, or any of that in a blog post for a mission page? Doesn’t it just stir up problems and cause disagreements?
This can cause disagreements, but the point I want to make, and what we all can agree on is that God is already at work.
So often, we speak in missions about how we are “bringing the gospel” as if God has not already been at work in that place before we ever got there. We speak as if we are bringing a new way or a new thing to a place without recognizing that we are joining in the work God has been doing in the whole earth before time began. We plant churches, start ministries, etc., trying to save people, but forget that it is God using those things to do His work, and His grace is active, not just in those receiving the service, but also in the lives of the people doing the service. We cannot save people.
Are we then to just sit by and doing nothing?
Not at all. In every area of our lives, we need to be asking what God is already at work doing.
As Alan Hirsch says, “In a very real and sobering way, we must actually become the gospel to the people around us—an expression of the real Jesus through the quality of our lives” (The forgotten Ways).
We have to live in such a way that all of what we do echoes Christ and His kingdom, partnering with Him in the transformation of the world. When we try to play the part of God and forget how His prevenient grace is already at work, we sadly miss out on the part God is calling us to and what God is already doing in us as well.
– By Daniel Buck, OMS Hungary Team Member