I’ve claimed to be a devout Christian before. The height of my claim came in high school when, for a few months, at least, I was set on the decision to attend a Seventh-Day Adventist college and major in Theology to become a pastor. For the most part, my spiritual life has been hit and miss since then.
The past couple years, however, brought about a growing acceptance of the concept of God’s grace. Essentially, there is nothing that I could do, or have ever done, to earn God’s love and acceptance. This realization has brought me closer to him than I’ve ever been or ever could become by learning to quote from the many writings of Ellen G. White or by refraining from doing the wrong thing on the sabbath (two big emphases of the Adventist church). Both of my hands are empty and free to serve now that I set my score card down.
My realization of the profound consequences of Grace on my personal life, has developed a greater appreciation of the events that the Christian Easter season celebrates. I grew up, as many kids do, coming out to the living room on Easter Sunday to find an Easter basket full of candy, treats, and usually a toy. The Peeps were my favorite. This was before they became available for every other holiday. I’m talking about the marshmallow, sugar-coated, yellow, pink, and purple chicks and bunnies. I still love them!
Sure, I was familiar with something related to Jesus being resurrected (or something like that), but, that was all on the periphery. My main focus when I was a kid was the candy, the oversized rabbit that stands on two legs at the mall, and egg hunts. Even in my mid-twenties I didn’t grasp the significance of “Good Friday,” as many people called it.
Last night I participated in a Thursday evening communion service in which we focused on commemorating Christ’s last supper with his disciples in the upper room. I’ve been focusing on this event in my personal readings over the past week as well. To me, this is where the truest character of Jesus is revealed. From the revelation that John the disciple reclined at the table with his head resting on the chest of Jesus, to the fact that the Messiah disrobed, wrapped his clothing around his waist, and washed each of his followers’ feet.
Though he knew he was about to suffer the greatest pain known to man, Christ spent this evening breaking bread with his betrayer, and providing food, wisdom, and comfort to his disciples. On the eve of the day when He would experience the greatest mental, physical and spiritual struggle to touch mankind, Jesus provided rest to his disciples and served even those who would, later that night, betray and deny him.
The next day he was unjustly executed. Three days later, on resurrection Sunday, he served all mankind by tying the knot of grace that binds, to Him, those who accept his generous invitation to eat with Him in His kingdom.
The hope and peace of my life rests on these events.
“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23
“3 Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God and was going to God, 4 rose from supper and laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself. 5 After that, He poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel with which He was girded.” John 13:3-5
Thanks for the testimony – both yours, and that of Christ Jesus. His Graceful example is one that sets our minds and hearts at ease and allows us to proceed in confidence along a path that seeks to emulate his servant attitude; not for our own gain, but for His glory. Blessings brother on this Good Friday.
Gracemark, thanks for baring your soul here. Also, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting on forgiveness on 4/2. I am always amazed how we see God’s Grace looking back. Honestly, I should not even be here writing this post. Blessings and keep writing! If it is not too personal, what are you doing if you are not a pastor?
I was not a Seventh-Day Adventist, nor did I come from a fundamentalist background growing up (both which are very legalistic from what I know), but I was plagued with performance growing up. Even when God rescued me at age 11 and showed me what love was (saving me in the process), I still had no concept of grace. It was only in the summer of 2005 that God opened my eyes and the truth of the gospel shone in my life: that God loves me apart from my performance and that my standing with him is secure because of Christ’s death.
Thank you for sharing how God’s grace has been opening your eyes and changing your life!
I would like to ask a question about carnal Christians, in particular if they are a relative and have wreaked havoc within the family by quoting Scripture constantly and then living a life of sin. I know that we all live a life of sin, but I’m talking about a Christian that has been saved for many years and continues to live a secular life and this is due to hurt, pain and hangups during childhood. Is this a person one should allow to live with them if they, because of their secular living have run out of options and so needs a place to stay? Would you think that it’s Biblical to do that? Paul talks about confronting the person and then bring another person to confront that person if they don’t admit to their sin, but she knows what she does is wrong, no question about that, she just keeps on making very bad choices and continues to wind up in situations that bring sin into her life, once again, ultimately because she doesn’t trust God, or has the faith that he will take care of her if she let’s him. She has even said that because she has this, “Grace,” that she sort of continues to do the things she does.
Let me preface my remarks with a couple of things: First, I am not in any position to really be giving a lot of advice here because I, as a human, am a person who sins in some way, shape, or form almost (or at least) every day. Also, I don’t know any details about your situation with regards to “living with [you].” Is this person a threat or a negative influence to younger people who live in the house? Is this person a threat to your safety? I think that these are reasonable questions to consider that may lead to answer to your question. I’ve personally thought about opening my home to other people on various occasions and often times I opt out for the sake of my kids’ safety. I’m not sure if this is the right way in God’s eyes, but, since I am their father and main defense, I’ve made the decisions that I have.
However, if you’re answer to these kinds of questions is no, I would suggest that you pray for God to help you learn to look past the sin and to love the sinner. The notable interactions that Jesus had with people in the gospels most often involved questionable characters like tax collectors and prostitutes. But, the main point that he made in each scenario was that love of the person is the most important principle.
Do I think that it is right to take advantage of grace, so to speak? Absolutely not. I do think that there is a real and sincere reaction that nudges the soul over time, though, from those who have truly recognized their need for grace and choose to accept it.
It is clearly a personal and serious issue for you and I pray that you handle it according to His will. But, always remember that the most important thing you can do is to love.
Good words. Good reminders.