In 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 thesis declaring salvation by grace through faith. Today the church desperately needs a second reformation of sanctification by grace. Christians are chained to a treadmill of trying to please God by their behavior, of trying harder and sinning less. If they can just discipline themselves enough and be determined enough, they are deceived into thinking they can become righteous and holy and be close to God and He will be pleased. Grace tells us that our relationship and intimacy with our Father in heaven is no longer dependent upon our behavior...or lack there of. Grace tells us we no longer have to strive to become righteous, because He has given us a new nature that is righteous. Grace tells us that it is the only thing powerful enough to deal with our sin. Grace tells us that God is already head-over-heels in love with us and nothing we do can change that. Welcome to "Formed by Grace."

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Lessons from a Forest Fire #2

Reflecting back on the fire that destroyed 500 homes and left ours standing has not been easy.  My mind wants to make some sense out of what happened...what happened to us and what happened to our friends and neighbors that are left with piles of ash.  But I have decided that trying to make sense out of it all, trying to discover the "whys," is the wrong path to walk.  The path I am choosing to take focuses on a phrase, a word, and a prayer.
                            The fire crossing the road behind us

First the phrase...and it is not "the grace of God."  I would have a hard time looking at a foundation full of ashes and saying, "Ah, the grace of God."  It might be right, but oh so hard.  And so the phrase I have been focusing on is "the will of God."  This helps me.  I do not need to understand the will of God.

And that brings me to the word that has been helping me, and that word is "mystery."  The will of God is mysterious and there are many who experience mysteries of God's will that are far more difficult and painful than a fire. I can live with the mysteries of God's will because I know God.

And so the prayer.   Just because God's will for our lives at times is deeply confusing and mysterious, and our hearts long for "whys" that we will never hear, it never diminishes God's trustworthiness.  No matter how deep and painful the ways he might lead us, he can always be trusted.  And so my prayer is that God will use the twists and turns of his will to deepen my trust in him.

1 comment:

  1. Over the last year of fires, as we have helped people sift thru ashes for any little remnant of their past, taken in several refugees, or just made our finances available to those who needed it, I am reminded how God says I am and wants me to be the primary pipe for His grace in the world. If I define grace as "unmerited favor", Jesus showed grace to Zacchaeus and he responded to that grace by helping others: the poor and those he sinned against. Interestingly, as He had done elsewhere, Jesus then said salvation had come to this household, seemingly tying salvation to works. One of the implications of this exchange, without trodding on salvation by faith alone, is that the real and complete message is grace has to have an effect after I entered this new relationship or I have to do something about it. It also sheds light on my responsibilities in this relationship: I have to participate and make an effort with Jesus as my audience and in most cases not wait for Him to tell me what to do. That last part is tricky, but if He is totally responsible for changing me and telling me what to do, then I have no responsibility and lose the privilege of walking by faith. I saw lots of grace during the fires: people who took their salvation seriously enough to make an effort to be transformed by His grace and then put that grace on display because they desired to be and are like Him .. In a situation God orchestrated ina fallen world.