Thursday, September 30, 2004

Amazing Grace

I attended an adult education lecture at my church last Sunday and we had a wonderful speaker. I just wanted to share some of the notes I took on this lecture.

The speaker said that grace is God's love in action and quoted from the passage about Jesus' baptism in the Gospel of John. As Jesus is being baptized in the river Jordan, a dove descends upon him and a voice says "This is my beloved." The speaker spoke of Jesus being the recipient of God's grace, which enabled him to withstand the trials he would face in his ministry and, ultimately, his crucifixion.

The speaker noted that we are also God's beloved and recipients of his grace. He said that its hard for us to accept this because it runs contrary to the way we think; we want to earn our way, not be passive acceptors of an undeserved gift. Its interesting to think about, I know it can be hard to accept a gift -- I want to have one to give in return and if I don't, I feel uncomfortable. Sometimes I don't want the gift I'm given. I know that I've given gifts that were unwanted.

The speaker said that we are often threatened by grace. It doesn't play by the rules of society. The bad are recipients of this grace just as much as the good, who 'deserve' it.

Finally, the speaker said that we need to internalize this grace. I wanted to ask him how.


Anonymous said...

I was at the same forum, as you know, and realized that is the ultimate question or need that I have been unconsciuosly searching for and if you figure out what it actualy is and how to open yourself up, please let me know. the closest I get to itis in churchwhen I forst arrive and say a prayer. I truly believe I feel th holy sprit and feel so incredibly blessed. _J.

Larry said...

Accept grace? Yes, hard for lots of people. In a Great Books forum a man said "nobody ever gave me anything". What sheer nonsense! He thought he had earned the right to breathe. Every breath is by God's grace; when he/she withholds it, we die.

We find grace hard to accept because we're proud. We think we've earned our place in life, and those folks at the Salvation Army are just shiftless-- not like us. As you go through life, your pride gets knocked down, bit by bit.

Internalize grace? Well that's a journey of a thousand miles.
Many years ago I told a friend that I wanted to be a minister. He looked at me for a moment, then said, "well a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step." So that's all we can do, take a step. (I figure I've walked maybe a few yards by now.)

If you can believe that God loves you, then you begin to love yourself-- not in the proud way, but as a beloved child of God. Then you find you can love other people. Every little kindness is a step along the way, like giving a cup of cold water.

It is hard. It's hard to give up our position of fancied superiority, and realize that God loves every one of us. Internalizing grace means learning to love people.