Andrew Sundar: The Grace Journey
The Grace Journey
Trans World Radio, Singapore
One of my mentors gave me a book called The Ascent of the Leader, authored by Bill Thrall and Bruce McNicol of Truefaced and Leadership Catalyst. Since then these two and John Lynch have also written TrueFaced, Behind The Mask and Bo’s Cafe.
Reading through The Ascent of a Leader opened my eyes to facts such as ‘character development is assumed’. It helped me to see why many in leadership fail. I also learnt it is important to lead from ‘who I am in Christ’ and see His character develop in me which is a fascinating discovery. As I looked at the Character Ladder it showed me the DNA of Christ on earth. While I never thought I would be meeting the authors who wrote this book, it turned out to be a surprise that I eventually met them. To my surprise, the president of Trans World Radio (TWR), Lauren Libby invited Bill Thrall to speak to the TWR Global Leadership Team, of which I am a member.
Listening to Bill explain the environment of grace and relationship of grace made me question the theology that I have from my own faith background. In my own journey with the Lord I have done extensive studies on ‘righteousness’ and the ‘believers mind’ and had a number of questions on my mind that needed clear answers. I for one saw a clear disconnect between positional and practical teaching of truth in the churches where I have been. I realised that probably Bill was connecting the dots for me, but I need to be sure. For example, when I heard a statement, ‘A saint who sins’ it caused a lot of struggle in me to accept that statement, however, when I read the book True Faced, things started to fall in place for me.
I saw myself in a ‘sin management’ position, and the shame that I try to hide, the guilt I live with, and the masks that I was wearing. Twenty years ago I accepted the Lord, and looking back at those years, I have served the Lord, but I would say my life always revolved around managing sin, and sometimes even doubting my own salvation. I struggled to understand and live who God says I am, because I doubted if God says I am his child, then why do I still struggle with sin. There are times that I felt that the moment I accepted Christ, I should be changed to not sinning mode. I decided to contact Bill to learn intensively on grace. He was gracious enough to host me in his home, and his wife Grace is full of grace! I learnt many things from God’s Word, that God has made me enjoy, and to live out of the Life that God has given me.
This intensive course in understanding grace enabled foundations to be laid for me. Bill called it the “miracles of the cross.” I learnt how God has already changed me and now all I need to do is to mature in the DNA of Christ who is in me. This one truth enabled me to enter into a new world of my faith. Because all this while I was trying to change my ‘old me’ to the ‘new me’ rather than living out who I am already changed to; all of a sudden it clearly dawned on me that we have taken the simple relationship that Christ has enabled for us to have with him into theological concepts and ideas for our own understanding, but we have not realised that it was only leading us to become performance-driven persons, trying to please God, but often failing and feeling guilty, and we get on a rollercoaster ride in our faith, rather than trusting who God says I am – which is the true essence of pleasing the Lord.
The process of maturing enabled me to learn that Christlikeness is developed in relationships, first with the Lord and with others. The need for me to trust the Lord and others with me dawned as fresh wave of air, as I learnt that words such as humility, submission, obedience, suffering and exaltation are all relationship words.
In this intensive, I walked through modules that enabled me to see the meaning of righteousness and holiness in two new ways. Righteousness is imparted to me and that enables me to receive and give love. Holiness is living without anything hidden in us. For sin thrives in darkness, but to live in light is to trust others in an environment of grace, where I can tell what is true about me to others and to live in light. Coming from an Indian cultural background makes it even more difficult for me to live in the open, for shame defines a lot of meanings in my culture. But I have talked about the importance of living without hiding to my wife. Sometimes when I share the thoughts that are not healthy going on in my mind with my wife, she is shocked that I would even say that out loud, but for me it is liberating, once I do, that ‘sin’ no longer has power over that thought. My wife also now appreciates knowing the importance of living without anything hidden in a person, which is living in holiness.
As I was learning these Truefaced truths of grace, I felt as if something holding on to me is gone and I am free now, and ever since I came back from this training, I have experienced much joy and freedom to live out who God says I am. I now know that only through the Holy Spirit can I deal with sin. So, standing together with God with my sin in front of me, He enables me to take care of it. More than that I have come to realise His dream for me. God has put me in a place of influence in my home, my church, my ministry in SE Asia, and with my family. He has given me the gift of grace to develop high-trust-based relationships in an environment of grace. I see every relational situation is an opportunity to mature, to reflect Christ to others.
I have shared the importance of this grace with my parents, I have started to do this with my colleagues. I will be preaching to a Tamil congregation in Singapore, and will be speaking in a Easter Bible camp in Malaysia.
It has become clear to me that there is a need to even change the way we share the Gospel. It is unfortunate that we have put the gospel as a message and into a formula rather than a relationship that leads us to live the newness of life in Christ Jesus.
In my work, I do much research and I find that church programs or activities, even sermons have little effectiveness in enabling a person to mature in Christ, but when there is an environment of grace, where we have relationship of trusts, this is where genuine growth takes place. It always surprises me when some of my church friends will call me and ask me to help them because they trust me. I wonder and ask them why they had not gone to their elders and pastors. Their answer is, “They will not understand us, we will be judged, we cannot trust them.” I see living out a life of grace is contagious. It gives us an opportunity to be the fragrance of Christ to a hurt soul.
I will continue on this journey and let the Lord mature me and shape me to be who He has predestined me to be. It helps me as a leader to realise the importance of letting God shape the Christ-likeness in me so that His name alone would be glorified. In a nutshell learning this relational theology of grace enabled me to connect the dots, and now frees me to enjoy the newness of life that has been bestowed to me. Guess what I can write a court-room drama on Romans and a soap opera from the epistles of John, for in both these texts principles of grace are marvellously portrayed.
I personally believe that the Leadership Catalyst teaches grace in a more profound way, and today every believer needs to hear it, otherwise ‘masks’ will determine our identities and we will be the Pharisees of the 21st century church history.