After being hurt by hypocrisy and legalism in the Church, the Spences eventually found healing and growth through gospel-centered community.

Nov 23, 2016   |  

Topic Community

At first glance, Micah and Kendall Spence were seen as an “unlikely couple” by their peers at the small Bible college they attended. Micah, who came from an ultra-conservative home, was not expected to date someone like Kendall—whose upbringing was deemed much more liberal since she grew up wearing jeans and attending public school.

Micah and Kendall fell in love without as much as holding hands. The strict rules enforced at their school prohibited such outward displays of affection. The young couple wrestled with living in a spiritual climate marked by harsh legalism and hypocrisy. The leadership at their school painted God in one light, yet their daily actions failed to align with the God whom they professed to know and serve. The leaders at the school exemplified a God with endless rules and demands who felt distant, unapproachable and impossible to please. Scarred by the influence of people who preached a message of grace yet embodied the opposite, Micah and Kendall felt a growing distrust of their Bible college and the faith it represented but continued to pursue the truth of God’s Word in their lives.  

"My good works don't earn any more of God’s favor, and my sin does not remove or negate His favor."

After graduation, Micah and Kendall moved to Dallas and began attending The Village Church. The Lord was gracious to lead them into the gospel-centered community of their Home Group. For the first time, Kendall felt truth wash over her wounds. "It was like my heart had been wrapped up in these chains, which were the law,” she said. “I realized that I didn’t need those—and they were broken away from me—but the marks were still there. They left an impression.”

It was through life in community that Micah was able to finally journey toward authentic freedom in Christ. “I complained all the time about our prior experience. Once, we were sitting around with the people from our Home Group, and I started crying and I said, ‘I’m actually bitter.’ The Home Group was instrumental in challenging me. They let us have a safe space to decompress and work through a lot of what had happened in our lives, but after that they started encouraging us to grow.” The authenticity and grace the Spences experienced in their Home Group stood in stark contrast to the stifling hypocrisy they observed at college.

Micah and Kendall’s group leaders walked them through the process of understanding the gospel of grace and challenged them to dive deeper into God’s purpose for their lives. Because they both carried spiritual baggage from a past marked by hypocrisy, the Spences found healing through their group leader’s willingness to ask the difficult “why” questions. Micah testifies to the impact this had on their lives: “We started to get to know who God actually was. He wasn’t a stern, judgmental Being who just wanted to smite us for our missteps. He was actually loving and interested and invested, as a good parent is.” Finding themselves surrounded by individuals anchored in truth and extending grace, the Spences were able to navigate through tough questions without the fear of condemnation. Stepping into a community of trust allowed a new level of vulnerability for both Micah and Kendall.

Kendall encountered growth through her group and authentic relationships by “discovering who God really was in a vernacular that I could understand and who wasn't such a mystery…The freedom from that is the liberation in Christ—not to an extent of licentiousness—but just being able to be who you are and who God created you to be.”

Micah and Kendall’s hearts break for others who have been wounded by hypocrisy and are bound by the chains of legalism. Kendall has experienced the importance of meeting others where they are and seeing them with God’s eyes firsthand. “Take time and sympathize with them,” she said. “They have to come to the realization that we’re all broken. That person who hurt you is a broken sinner just like you are.”

Micah and Kendall thank God for providing them with a truth-saturated, gospel-centered community. Micah described his growth as formational in his walk with Christ: “My good works don’t earn any more of God’s favor, and my sin does not remove or negate His favor. Beginning this realization has been life-changing for me.”

And, as Kendall puts it, “it’s like a drink of cold water when you’re dying of thirst.”