Confidence In Love
I had to understand how much I needed and I still do need God before God’s Grace could triumph. For God’s grace to transform me, as it continues to do I had to accept and respond to it. This does not mean that I added to God’s grace or that I somehow was out of God’s care when I didn’t receive God’s gift that is already ours. No, it simply means that I could not experience the wondrous awesomeness of God. To know God is to experience God in the present moment.
In Luke 15, Jesus tells three parables about a lost sheep, a lost coin, and a lost son. Upon finding the lost sheep, the man calls everyone together to rejoice. The same thing happens with the lost coin and lost son. These three parables show us how God sees and embraces the lost that are found. With the lost son, the father doesn’t wait for the son to plead his case and refuses to listen to his apology instead he throws a party. That is grace. Grace is when we are still far off God runs to us and embraces us even before we can say anything. Grace welcomes the lost without any strings attached. The sinner’s prayer is not needed to experience and respond to God’s unbelievable grace that is already ours even if we don’t know it. God’s grace is sufficient.
Jesus says, “I tell you there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent.” (Luke 15:7)
Eugene Peterson translates that same line in The Message: there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.
As Robert Farrar Capon writes, “The Reformation was a time when men went blind, staggering drunk because they had discovered, in the dusty basement of late medievalism, a whole cellarful of fifteen-hundred-year-old, two-hundred proof Grace—of bottle after bottle of pure distillate of Scripture, one sip of which would convince anyone that God saves us single-handedly. The word of the Gospel – after all those centuries of trying to lift yourself into heaven by worrying about the perfection of your bootstraps—suddenly turned out to be a flat announcement that the saved were home before they started… Grace has to be drunk straight: no water, no ice, and certainly no ginger ale; neither goodness, nor badness, not the flowers that bloom in the spring of super spirituality could be allowed to enter into the case.”
Jesus never asks that we clean ourselves up to be presentable to God and deserve the unconditional and limitless love and grace of God. In Mark 1, the leper went to Jesus and asked for healing and Jesus with compassion gave it freely. It was a gift. Not earned. Given freely. Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Christian or if he had said the sinner’s prayer and tithed to his local church or believed the Apostles’ Creed. True, none of those things existed then. However, Jesus didn’t ask the leper if he was a Jew in right standing or believed Jesus was the son of God. No! The leper asked. Jesus healed. Yes, that simple. Then and now.
Jesus interacts with us in the very same way. Not in a psychical presence, but he is still here. We need only ask Jesus. No church, person, book, philosophy, or man-made system will ever give us what Jesus offers freely. As Robin Myers says, Jesus’ “invitation was not to believe, but to follow.” We are not called simply to believe in some detached intellectual way, but to trust and follow. Faith is trusting that Jesus is Lord and Savior of all. If we say yes and follow then our entire life will be transformed in such a way that we won’t need proof of God’s existence. We won’t believe or hope God is real. We will know God is real. We will move and have our being in God.
To respond to Jesus and accept what he already has accomplished in us and the world means to stop striving to be perfect and earn our way. It means to begin trusting in God’s grace.
It has not been long that I have committed to Jesus fully, that I have taken up the Jesus way. I am a Christian, a Jesus follower. I can see how my life is irreparably different. Things are not the same. For better or worse, my life is different is in the process of being transformed into new life into eternal life. Life after Jesus is different. This different life is good. God is good and all are called to come and see. I still have further, much further to go with the grace of God I will become the person God intends me to be. I am not the person I ought to be. I am no longer who I was. I am on the way.
I affirm here and elsewhere that this life, the life we are living here and now matters. That our life, this life will stretch on beyond the grave that through Jesus we have been gifted with eternal life beginning now and going forward. The Later God will handle. The now is where we need to be. We should live our lives with one foot in this world and the other in the Kingdom. We should live this life with one eye on our needy brothers and sisters and the other eye on Jesus.
Our life should be lived in the Confidence in the love that God through Jesus offers freely and calls us who are on the way to extend to others as freely and lavishly as it has been offered to us.
Grace and Peace