Sunday, October 11, 2015
Today is the LORD's day. All over the world people will worship Him, pray to Him and thank Him for the grace and forgiveness He gives each of us through His Son, Jesus the Christ. Yes, today is the LORD's day. Is it the only day we will give Him this week? Our challenge each day is to carry Jesus with us as we walk through the trials and tribulations of our world. We need to be led by the Holy Spirit as we encounter difficult situations. We need to "let go and let God." This is true every day. You may not know it, but for some of you reading this today there has seldom been a more important day to live in God's grace and share it with the world than tomorrow.
Tomorrow is a day in which we may come face to face with the ghosts of the hurt, pain and anger of days gone by. It is a day in which we will have the opportunity to offer hope instead of condemnation; when we can show love instead of disdain; and in which we can offer grace in the name of Jesus. It is entirely possible that you will not want to do this tomorrow. You may prefer to see someone suffer more for their sins, feeling no amount of suffering is enough. You may prefer to ignore a person in need of love and a kind word. You may think they are only getting what they deserve. It is so tempting to feel that way- and temptation is exactly what it is. Judging someone as "beyond lovable" is a thought that comes straight from The Deceiver. Where would we be if God gave us what we deserve? I can't answer for you, but I sure can for me- and I don't like the answer one little bit. "My sin not in part but in whole, is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more..." Without those words, I am just a sinner, and I am lost. With them, I am a child of God, forgiven and free. It makes no difference who we are or what we have done, we are worthy of God's love. The question is will we accept it...
In the Gospel of John at the beginning of chapter 8, Jesus comes upon a woman accused of adultery. Her accusers are preparing to stone her, because in their eyes she no longer has any worth as a person. When Jesus arrives, the crowd attempts to gain his approval before commencing. Jesus kneels down and begins to doodle in the sand while they await his response. He finally says to them, "Let him without sin cast the first stone." One by one, the rocks drop from their hands and they walk away. Jesus asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" She replied, "No one, sir." Then Jesus declared, "Neither do I condemn you. Go now and leave your life of sin."
The question for us is, what will we do tomorrow when we encounter "the sinner," for it is an encounter that is bound to happen. Will we see the pebble in their eye, or will we be aware of the boulder in our own? Will we decide that it is our place to carry out judgement, or will we understand that Jesus died for every sin, not just ours? It is so very USAmerican these days to go Old Testament and demand "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth," forgetting Gandhi's reminder that "An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind." To think that way is to forget that the coming of Jesus changed everything. It is human nature to carry grudges and never forget sin; indeed, we love reminding others of their sins. It is God's nature, as demonstrated in the gift of Jesus, to love and ALWAYS forget our sins. With God looking on, with Jesus in your heart and with the Holy Spirit leading the way, how will you respond tomorrow? I say "you" because I already know my answer. I don't know much, but I do know this- "The longer I know my LORD, the more I know- I've got no stones to throw."
Today is the LORD's day. And so is tomorrow. Share God's love and forgiveness with everyone you encounter. And if you happen to run into any returning prodigal sons (besides me- I have already been welcomed home with amazing grace!), go to them. Hug them. Break out the fatted calf! Because that is exactly what Jesus said to do...
Because of Jesus,