Grammar is full of verbs. I googled and found:
Auxiliary verbs. Lexical Verbs. Dynamic Verbs. Stative Verbs. Finite Verbs. Non finite Verbs. Regular verbs. Irregular verbs. Transitive verbs. Intransitive verbs. Causative verbs. Copular verbs. Performative verbs.
And I thought that it was simple - a verb was simply a “doing word”.
My family are used to me making up words. Many conversations and I will just create my own adjectives or verbs. Some linger. I think some of my old staff still use “shadongadin” on eof my made up exclamations!
This last weekend I created a new theological phrase - Grace; The Compelling Verb. At a recent Tearfund event I used John Mayer’s lyric “When you show me love/I don't need your words/Yeah love ain't a thing/Love is a verb/Love ain't a thing/Love is a verb.” I also used the tumble turn of the swimmer bringing out the double reflex of grace. As soon as you receive God’s grace you tumble turn into becoming a grace giver. (read that related blog THE DOUBLE REFLEX OF GRACE here...)
My current sermon series is based around Mark Greene’s book Fruitfulness On The Front Line. Greene has 6 Ms that he feels will make the Christian effective on the front lines of our lives. The third M is ‘ministering love and grace’. Greene points out that Jesus din’t have to give sight to the blind or heal the lame or feed the 5,000. He didn’t have to but grace compelled him. God didn’t have to be born in a manger, live among humans, die on a cross or be raised to life again. God’s grace was a compelling verb.
So with the follower of Jesus. The double reflex, the fruit of the Spirit… we don’t have to… but grace is a compelling verb. Grace conjures two words; generosity and forgiveness. On our front lines, in family, work, neighbourhood and society we are connection with grace compels us to be generous and forgiving to all we meet and engage with.
Philip Yancey’s new book seems to me to be an important work for the time. He is suggesting that Christianity’s decline might be as a result of our lacking generosity and forgiveness. Here’s the blurb -
How can Christians offer grace in a way that is compelling to a jaded society? And how can they make a difference in a world of such wrenching need? Vanishing Grace: Whatever Happened to the Good News is a milestone book for all those who are striving to make sense of their faith and live it out amid the changing landscape of our day. Philip explores how Christians may have contributed to hostility toward them by presenting the gospel in ways that come across as strident and judgemental. Then he explores what kind of news is good to a culture that thinks it has rejected the Christian version. And finally, he offers illuminating stories of how faith can be expressed in ways that disarm even the most cynical critics - through pilgrims, activists, and artists rather than through preachers, evangelists, and apologists.
I will blog much more about Yancey’s book in the coming weeks. In the meantime let us live out the compelling verb of grace in all we do or say. Desmond Tutu has said, “Do your little bit of good where you are. It’s those bits of good put together that overwhelm the world.” Let’s do it!