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.

POINT OF CONTACT

My friend, Larry, says that everyone has a point of contact with God. Somehow and at sometimes there is a way that humans want to touch God. The old saying that ‘there are no atheists in foxholes’ has some merit. People need God. They may call God by another name, higher power, the one upstairs and they may even worship an idol to reach out to God as seen in Acts 17 nonetheless somehow people stop looking inward and they look outward.

Take the woman in Luke 8 who has a serious bleeding problem that has persisted for years and through the care of many doctors but there is still no relief. This would have been an amazing story for Luke to tell since he WAS a physician.

The woman comes up behind Jesus just to get close enough to perhaps touch him in HOPE that some healing might come to her. And as she touches the fringe of Jesus’ robe Jesus himself experiences power going out from him and the woman is healed.

Just a touch, a point of contact. A prayer of help. A baptism. A wedding. An hospital visit. A telephone call. A word of encouragement. Who knows how that point of contact will bring healing and salvation to a soul in need?

You and I are the body of Christ. We wear the garment that people want to touch. Let’s find ways for them to find Jesus in us.

WE’RE NOT FAITHFUL ENOUGH

Somewhere along the way we have learned a mistaken concept. We think that it is by our faith that we are saved but not so. My suggestion here is not a new idea. It has been expounded by others. According to the Greek in Galatians 2:20 Paul is actually saying that he lives by the faithfulness of the Son of God.
It makes sense does it not that you and I can never attain to the faithfulness of Christ? There is only one person so free of sin and yet so in love with humanity that he was willing to surrender his life in faithfulness to God.
What we do is believe him, believe in him if you like. As Jesus said to his disciples in John 14, ‘you believe in God, believe in me.’ Trust what he is doing on our behalf.

Say you have an attorney defending you in a criminal trial. You pay this person and you trust that he or she will do the best for you. You believe that they can do this. It’s not you doing the defending. Your belief is not the same as the skill and the experience of the attorney. You might actually say that your life is being saved by the faithfulness of that particular attorney.
The reason this makes a difference is that sometimes we strain to ‘get enough faith’. Faith is not some mysterious power that we conjure up in our hearts or minds. It is simply believing Jesus, taking him at his word. In Romans 10:9 Paul writes that if we confess with our mouths that Jesus is Lord and believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead we will be saved. And that’s just the beginning but it’s a large, a monumental beginning to get to the place where we believe that the faithfulness of Jesus is enough to secure for us an eternal relationship with the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.
It is not our strength or the strength of our faith that saves us but the faithfulness of the Son of God. And then we take a lifetime to live out that belief by following Jesus.