Sid stood before the judge with a hopeless heart. He had been rightly convicted of murder and sentenced to death. But the judge showed him mercy by pardoning him and wiping the slate clean. If you were Sid, how would you feel – pretty grateful, huh? Then the judge, who saw such potential in Sid, presented him an incredible opportunity. That insightful judged offered Sid a fully paid scholarship to school so he could pursue a wonderful new career – one that perfectly suited his gifting and passion. Do you know how Sid responded? He said, “No, thank you. I would rather beg on the street like I was before. I may fail at school. It can be very demanding. I know how to beg, and dumpster food isn’t all that bad.”
As Christians we focus a lot on God’s mercy, thanking him for saving us. But accepting his loving invitation to live in his grace and enjoy the abundance He so lovingly offers us is harder. Sid was afraid. The judge was asking him to make a change, and in his fear, he chose what he thought was the “safe” route. Ironically, the “safe” path was what led Sid to murder in the first place. The path of living a grace filled life may not seem safe, but it is far better than any life we could create on our own.
The early church in Jerusalem heard that some men from Cyprus and Cyrene were sharing the Good News with non-Jews in Antioch. They sent Barnabas to check up on the rumors. When Barnabas arrived in Antioch, he saw the “grace of God” in them which affirmed their faith. You can read about that in Acts 11:19-26.
So what did Barnabas recognize as the “grace of God?” He saw a community of disciples who were following Jesus and demonstrating grace toward one another. They were living in the kingdom of God – like the one Jesus describes in the Sermon on the Mount. Transformation like that only comes from power of God’s grace in our lives. Grace sanctifies us. It changes us from the inside out. As grace manifests itself in us, we learn to trust more and more in God and less on our own understanding. The result of submitting to God’s grace is a life that is inwardly full of joy and peace. It lifts us beyond our circumstances. Our priorities change. We begin to love others as Jesus loved us. Salt and light spill over as we focus first on God and then on others.
So how do we do that? We follow Jesus. We spend time with Him, listening to his voice and doing what he says. We resist the temptation to “fix” problems by manipulate people or running away from our problems with alcohol, internet, food, porn, television, (you fill in the blank), etc. So let’s not be like Sid and look to our old ways and our own understanding. Instead, let’s trust the Lover of our souls to lead us into kingdom living full of grace and love.
“Oh, how great are God’s riches and wisdom and knowledge! How impossible it is for us to understand His decisions and His ways.”