Monday, January 25, 2021
The Wonders of God’s Grace
As Gift to Us All
For I am with you, says the Lord, to save you; I will make an end of all the nations among which I scattered you, but of you I will not make an end. I will chastise you in just measure, and I will by no means leave you unpunished.
1 Peter 5:6
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, so that he may exalt you in due time.
Words of Grace For Today
The world works under simple rules: do well, do good, and get rewarded. Do badly, do evil, and get punished. At least those are the rules that people talk as if applied, and that supposedly ‘good’ people abide by (or appear to abide by.)
The dark reality is that the simple rules do apply, just a different version: Do badly enough, do great evil, and get rewarded. Do real well, do great good, and get punished by those who do not want to be know as those rewarded for doing evil.
So preachers come to the pulpit, with little experience, or much experience, and they preach a foul message: that in the church we good people must pull ourselves up, pull ourselves together, and gather together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works, so that the simple rules, the first version, the version taught to small children, is the way the world works.
The words may vary a bit: it may be that the reward is that justice is done for all people including the guilty who we must stop and punish. Or it may be that the homeless will have homes and the hungry will have food because we do the work to make it so.
Always the message is: get up and get it right. Get on with doing good. Our reward will be in heaven, or some such thing. But those who do terrible things will be punished and put to an end.
Ha! The evil that is in such a message is immense.
It corrupts God’s message in Jesus Christ down to the same formula as humans always play with: Do and be rewarded or punished. Now get on with all that you are able to do (good or bad.)
Only by Grace are we good enough for God, otherwise every single one of us fall short of God’s measure of what good enough is.
God’s simple rules are completely different. First God comes, rescues and saves us. God marks us as God’s own children. Because God saves us, not just once but our whole lives long, therefore we are able to hear the story, understand the story, accept the story, and share the story of Jesus and his unconditional love for us.
Therefore we are able to go out into the world that seems to work on a ‘do’ and ‘get results’ equation. In this wonderful world we are able to live out a different equation, the one that describes Jesus’ story.
That equation is ‘God does for us’ and therefore ‘we get to do for others.’
That’s amazing Grace.
That’s wondrous Love.
That’s a basis for undeniable Hope.
Because God does for us, we can face anything that comes our way. Even that which appears to be ‘discipline’ from God for our sins.
God promises, through everything, not to abandon us, not to destroy us.
In God’s own time we will be transformed, with gratitude, to those who can reflect God’s Grace to all around us.
There is no need or possibility of us good people pulling ourselves up, pulling ourselves together, or gathering together in our efforts with each other to change the way the world works. That may happen from our efforts, but only if God works in us. Our goal can be to transform the world. But only in that more and more people know Jesus’ story as the story of God’s unconditional love – done first for us by God when we do not and cannot deserve it, so that we can share that with all others.
That’s an equation that has God’s wonders as a wildcard variable, that makes everything possible … for God, and by God for us.