Friday, February 26, 2010

Days of Grace

I feel it, the tug. It is the tug at my heart to act, to do something. In recent months I've been exposed to the international orphan crisis through blogs, websites, conferences, dinners, meetings, and friends. Topics covered include everything from feeding and educating the children, adoption, orphan care, empowering native families to provide for themselves, and ultimately, bringing the Word of God to the people. You obviously have to start with their physical needs because it's difficult to tell a starving HIV infected 5 year old who has watched their parents die that Jesus is the way if all you have is a smile.

I began to really be serious in asking God to soften my heart and help me to become compassionate about a year ago. I did this with trepidation, conjuring visions of picking up homeless people in my car or taking the guy with mental problems who wanders the city streets to a restaurant for a burger. I never conceived that God would enlarge my focus to a global scale towards the destitude and dying. That is not to say I don't notice the homeless guy or the struggling single mom. It's more like God is saying, "You want to see the least of these? I'll show you the least of these!" None-the-less, I find in gaining a new global perspective, I am now far more keenly aware of my own microcosm. God has grown me multi-dimensionally, something that I could never have done though my own "intellectual" soul searching.

In recent years, I've become very much aware of a movement of God's grace and an awareness of his overwhelming love in the body of Christ. I've read authors such as John Bevere who have exposed the heart of God to me in a manner I've never considered before.
Worship music has gone to new heights both in radio airplay and in the WOW, Hillsong, and other cds. Artists are bringing home the heart of God and how much he values and loves every single one of us, infinitely more than each of us could ever consider. We've all heard the statement "if you were the only one, He still would have sent His son" and it seems cliche. But to really grasp that statement and its magnitude and realize, "Wow, I think if I really was the only one He would have".

Reading in Ephesians 1:7-10 today it struck me that Salvation was not God's backup plan for us, his "plan B". Neither did he find himself in the position of "We'll we've purchased them, the blood covers it all, guess since I AM love, we'd better lavish grace on them too". The word for grace also denotes profound favor. These verses show that God had a plan, an intelligent, laid out plan from the outset, to purchase your life from hell, so that he could adopt you into his family and lavishly pour out favor and love on you for eternity.

We don't serve a reactionary God, one who says "oops, didn't count on that - but since I'm omnipotent I'll deal with it." We have a Father who knows the very end, every end, from the beginning, every beginning. He knows the plan he has for your life, my life. He loves your life - you - who you are, more than all of the volumes of history could record and he has a predetermined plan to lavish grace and favor upon you. He's had it from the beginning of time, for every one of us. According to these verses, His great pleasure will be to bring it all together when he can bring us all together in Him. Since the Word also says He's the only one who knows the day and the hour, I can just imagine how excited he must be with anticipation and yet how heartbroken at the same time. Heartbroken because he committed the ultimate sacrifice. He left it to us to choose to embrace or reject him.

Here's where the tug comes. It's all well and good if I realize God's love for me. It's great to feel good about being a called son of the Most High God, an adopted Heir, a slave set free. It's amazing to comprehend that as an heir, I am heavenly royalty, a son of the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. That's all wonderful. I love it that I can feel good about the Chris Tomlin song I just heard on the radio or I can bask in the sunlight of this beautiful world I walk through while driving my vehicle on the way to my job praising God all the way there for my healthy children and my beautiful wife and my warm home. But does it stop there? Did Jesus call us to feel good about our salvation or to do something about it? All of these things build my faith, but does James not say faith without works is dead? How dead is my faith, then? How dead is yours? Tug.

The days of grace are certainly upon us. God's love is being revealed to the nations like never before, and in our affluence this country will have the most difficult time accepting it because we don't need this kind of love. We've learned to be very much content without it, to chase after all of the trappings of the two story home-two car garage-1/2 acre lot-2.5 kids - car and minivan-American birthright. With subconscious efficiency we've learned to tune out an entire globe full of hurting, needing people who look to the most affluent culture in the history of our world and who profess to be a "Christian Nation" for help. Jesus said it will be most difficult for the rich man to get into heaven. The poorest in this country is rich compared to the world around us.

Recognizing the love and grace of God are a tremendous first step for the redeemed, but we are called to do something about it. It's like a starving man discovering a buffet of every conceivable and desirable food. Is it enough for him to appreciate that it is there or should he partake of it and bring others who are dying of the same starvation he was, especially when the provider has told him to? How contemptible would it be for that man to eat just enough to keep himself alive, but never tell the scores of people whom he knows are likewise dying of the existence of the banquet and its host who has freely invited all. Would the host be pleased with that man? Would God be pleased with us?

This obviously gets into our witness, but beyond that - how is our faith tangible? Yes, faith is tangible. It is not some ethereal "I believe" statement. It starts with belief in the depth of the heart but must be expressed in our reaction to that belief. If we truly believe that Jesus is the Lord, the Messiah, the Son of God, then we will do everything he commands. How many hurting have you walked past today? Have you hated your mother and father today? Have you left everything and followed him? Have you taken up your cross? Tug.

These are heavy considerations and every single one of them are ones that I am wrestling with. What am I doing to prove to my Lord that I am one of the faithful, one who loves him? In the light of his calling, my actions thus far have been inadequate, I'll be the first to say it. I'm simply so thankful that God is opening my eyes to these truths now and is equipping me to change the sphere he has placed me in. What's really neat, is that sphere is enlarging beyond my ability to comprehend, but so is his grace!

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