(July 8, 2013)
God is a God of love and forgiveness. God loves us no matter what. God forgives anything we do.
Because of grace, God will forgive our sin. The more we sin, the more grace God gives.
Does that mean we can do anything, and never change our sinful life? Never even try to stop sinning?
Paul says in Romans, “Should we continue in sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! (Romans 6:1-2, NRSV)
Yes, God loves us and forgives us but that does not mean God accepts anything, or doesn’t want us to change our lives to the way God wants us to be.
Interesting thing about Jesus, though, and the way he approached people and their sins, is that he loved them unconditionally and accepted them unconditionally. That is why people were so attracted to him.
But that unconditional love and acceptance—that grace—changed them for the better. Because they were loved, because they were accepted, their hearts were changed, and so were their lives.
Too often I approach others the opposite way. I try to change people to the way I think they should be. I offer them criticism rather than love. I offer judgment rather than acceptance. I preach to them about their wrongs rather than looking for the beauty within.
That approach doesn’t change them; it just angers them and makes them want to stay the way they are.
I need to follow Jesus’ example and love them, accept them, grace them.
And let Christ’s love and grace change their lives from the inside out.
Reading the sixth chapter of Genesis, I find it interesting that because of mankind's wickedness God decides to destroy ALL of creation. The wickedness was so great that the only thing people thought about, all the time, was evil. God regretted creating humans and that apparently extended to animals and the rest of creation.
Yet, Noah found favor in God's eyes. I like the KJV translation of 6:8—Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord. GRACE. Right in the beginning of our human-divine relationship God shows grace to human beings. Despite our wickedness, despite our sinfulness, despite our deserved death God shows grace: undeserved love and mercy. One man alone is found to preserve the human race.
Was it because Noah was an especially good man, a righteous man in the midst of evil? Or was it because God simply extended grace to Noah? Was the goodness already present and God responded to it with grace? Or did God stir Noah's heart toward goodness?
I guess either way it was all God's doing. Salvation is always totally God's doing. Noah was saved not because he did anything to earn it but simply because of God's grace.
God saw within the human race a sliver of goodness. That is all God needs to work with, whether in the human race or in one individual of the human race. As long as there is a sliver, the tiniest spot of goodness and beauty within, God will work with it and stir the heart toward Him. And the grace of God will bring about salvation, for salvation is God doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves.
We can say that a person is nothing but evil (think of Columbine, or Aurora, CO, or someone like Charles Manson) and there is no hope for them and no reason for them to live, but I think in every person, no matter how evil, deep within there is a spot of goodness.
Just as the human race was continually evil yet contained a sliver of goodness, so an individual who is continually evil certainly contains a sliver of goodness. And even if they do not, who's to say God won't still extend grace to that person?
That is what God's grace is all about. No one—NO ONE—is beyond the reach of God's grace!