I CHOOSE GRACE

Why does God choose to work in our weaknesses rather than in our strengths? Does God want to show us who is boss? Does God have a pride problem? Does God perhaps want to humiliate us for our sin? Is God himself weak?

No. It’s because God cannot develop a relationship with his creation if we think we are strong enough to succeed by ourselves. That’s what happened in the Garden a long time ago. And it’s what happens whenever and wherever humans build their own egos (their territorial walls) against the love of another, in this case God.

God wants to love us and love is best enjoyed when neither lover is a bully or egotist.

God has already demonstrated his own weakness and vulnerability in Jesus. That’s what the incarnation is all about. Not only does God live with us but God loves with us and suffers with us in order to give love a fertile ground in which to thrive. See, God’s grace can only flourish in weakness. It’s the law of God’s universe and God’s salvation and restoration of humankind. And while much suffering is unthinkable and unbearable it is the only path of love in this world and God wants love enough that God gives freedom even to evil and greed on this journey. Certainly God can work all things to the good for those who understand this but unfortunately not many do. And God will not force his love on us or coerce us to love him. That would be abusive and meaningless.

In 2 Corinthians 12:9 God tells Paul that God’s love is sufficient/enough for Paul’s needs in the midst of Paul’s own suffering. And through it Paul will develop more understanding of God’s love in this world. It will be the kind of love that will develop community and form a bride for the living Christ. And through Paul’s own suffering God will develop a character that God can trust with his powerful love and restoration of this creation.

It’s as though God is letting the EGO of this world be ‘lost’ in order to be ‘found’ again.

There are a great many trees in our contemporary Gardens of Eden. And if we could we would choose them over God and make our own way. But creation doesn’t work that way. It is been arranged that we NEED each other. We love each other. We care for each other. And without suffering there would be only self-sufficiency.

Fortunately the tree is now inaccessible and unavailable try as we might to find it or grow our own.

Before the tree there was only love. Now through Christ love, eternal love, has been restored. Through the poverty of Christ our lives have been enriched. There is a choice now: self-sufficiency or grace. I CHOOSE GRACE.

BACK TO THE GARDEN

Back to the Garden

So, I am not really sure how evil got here. Oh, I know about the fallen angel, about the serpent, about the disobedience of our first parents and subsequent rebellion of humanity to God and how death and destruction has pervaded the world ever since. But concepts like original evil elude me.

What I do know is that since the coming of Christ we are making our way back to Eden not driven farther from it. There may be an allusion to this idea even back in Psalm One. I print it here from the MESSAGE paraphrase:

 

  • You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
  • bearing fresh fruit every month, Never dropping a leaf, always in blossom.

This is from the Psalm that speaks about staying close to God and to God’s word. The word ‘Eden’ is not in the original translation but the idea remains that we who now place our confidence in Christ and obey his commands are really ‘like those trees planted by the rivers’ and later in Revelation will see the completion of that vision. Revelation 22:

 

The River of Life
1Then he showed me a river of the water of life, clear as crystal, coming from the throne of God and of the Lamb, 2in the middle of its street. On either side of the river was the tree of life, bearing twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit every month; and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations…

Read how Paul puts it in 2Corinthians5 (NIV):

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!

In one place in Ephesians 2:6 Paul writes that we are seated with Christ in the Kingdom of God, in Heaven. That’s our position and from that position we bear fruit for him.

The Resurrection of Christ is proof of the Eden to which are returning and wherever and whenever the presence of Christ breaks into our lives, the Kingdom is there, and Eden’s rivers run strong. Whenever evil is overcome by good, there is Eden. Where reconciliation takes place the fruit of Eden becomes a witness to the world.

I am afraid that America as a whole is not Eden, nor is it on the way to Eden as long as the nation maintains its level of violence against anyone. Recall how Jesus overcame evil. And maybe most people don’t really care about Eden but I believe that the church, where the church proclaims good and places its confidence in Christ, cannot be held back from

Eden and not even the gates of hell can stop the progress of the church especially where the church and Christians are so badly persecuted.And the hurting people of the world may be the first find Eden.

Eden’s guardian angels are letting God’s people back to paradise. Some of us can see it now in front of us. Some are yearning for the day but fear not says God for God is making all things new and restoring God’s creation. Let us pray, worship and work for the day when God’s grace will lead the way back.