Thursday, July 28, 2022

Full of Grace

 “We observed his glory—glory like that of an only child of a father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

I think of grace as the experience of coming to an impasse and then having a brand new possibility open up, an unexpected way forward.

Grace is the wonderful recognition that we have a place full of promise to explore.

We experience grace every day. It is a part of life, a basic fact of experience. Life depends on grace.

We can rarely foresee how things will work out, but somehow they do. That’s grace.

A person full of grace is someone whose speech, behavior, and very presence is a continual gift, an opening up of one unexpected possibility after another.

Jesus is full of grace.

In the gospels, grace characterizes all his interactions. When we read about these encounters, we can ask ourselves, “Where is the grace here?”

This question helps reveal the new things Jesus is bringing into the world. It also points us to the practical meaning of scripture.

Jesus’s whole life was an example of grace.

His life made possible much of the moral, spiritual, intellectual, and artistic development of humanity.

John uses the image of an only child to describe grace. Anyone who has struggled to have children will understand why John uses this image. The birth of such a child is a renewal of the possibilities of life.

Grace is always accessible. When you feel stuck, ask Jesus for grace. Ask until grace arrives.

I said above that grace opens up a way forward. Another way to think of it is that grace opens up a way in—a way for us to move inwards towards the heart of things.

Grace unfolds the space of possibilities we already inhabit. Freeing us to see clearly, to act decisively, to change meaningfully, and to connect authentically with others.

No real problem is ever solved except through grace.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Kneel Before Me

 “If you kneel before me, all things will be yours.” (Luke 4:7)

 How is it possible that Jesus was tempted by the devil?

Jesus was a good man. He wanted good things. One of those things, I am certain, was a swift end to injustice and oppression.

Like many of us, he may have been impatient to bring this about.

Jesus likely didn't know all his father's reasons for delaying the good things that are surely coming as soon as possible.  While he walked the earth, Jesus did not know everything.

The devil argued that if all things belonged to Jesus, he could order them according to his own will, without having to wait for his father's mysterious will to unfold.

But Jesus was not fooled.

He answered, Where I do not know, I will trust. I do not serve my own will, and I certainly do not serve the devil's. Nor do I serve any good, no matter how noble, lower than the perfect good which my father is bringing about.

To try with violence to force justice to come before its time is only to delay God's justice—the only justice that can satisfy us.

We may see the things of the world as ours to order as we think right, but they do not belong to us or to anyone who pretends to be able to give them to us.

The things of the world are the Father's. It is from him and on his terms that we receive them.

That we receive them on his terms means we must give up any attempt to bring about justice through injustice.

The Father is putting things right in his own way in his own time. God's way is infinitely better than ours.

So let's work for justice with determination, discernment, and patience. And let's work in harmony with our Father's will.*


* I'd like to acknowledge my debt to George MacDonald's sermons, "The Temptation in the Wilderness" and "Jesus in the World."