Thursday, November 08, 2007

There is unity in grace

Grand Sweep Daily Reading: Romans 1, 2, 3

Romans 3:21-25 (NIV)

21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and we are justified freely by this grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood.

Good morning!

Questionnaires are often used categorize people into various groups. Some may ask: Are you male or female? What is your race? Where do you live? How old are you? What is your income level? Do you have a religious preference? Have you ever committed a felony? The society in which we live often separates people and classifies them into sub-groups. Many people, who have strong opinions and biases on social issues and beliefs, are labeled by the community where we live. That label is based on a particular point of view. In the world of politics, you may be known as a proud Democrat, Republican, or Independent. You may be labeled a liberal or conservative in your theological stance. Why do we human beings go to such lengths to segregate ourselves from each other?

The Apostle Paul spent a chunk of his life persecuting Christians. He held on to his conviction that Christ’s followers were out to destroy the time-honored traditions and laws of Jewish culture and belief. He did not realize that Jesus Christ was the fulfillment of all prophecy. So Paul put on his battle armor, drew a line in the dirt and began a relentless quest to rid the world of born-again Christians.

When we separate ourselves from others, we begin to run with blinders on. We can’t see where we are headed because we are way too busy focusing on our differences rather than our commonality. It took a miraculous encounter with the risen Christ and a time of physical blindness for Paul to clearly see the truth. What will it take for you and me to lay down the things that separate us, so that we can share the Lord Jesus Christ with the world?

When Paul wrote to the church in Rome, he said, “There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” What does this mean? There are no differences between us? All of us suffer from time to time with physical illness and limitations. Every person struggles to survive, from the moment we are conceived in the womb. Some people struggle harder than others. Many do not have the necessities of life. Others seem to have an overabundance of necessities. Every human being gets hungry and longs to be fed. In the winter, we get cold. In the blistering heat of summer, we sweat. Human beings share the same fears – fear of death, fear of failure, and fear of being hurt by the people we love. We may not look, think, or act alike, but we all have the same predisposition to sin.

The sins we commit may vary, but sin is sin. It doesn’t matter whether you struggle with unsavory words coming out of your mouth or if you just think them inside your head. It does not change the sin factor. Maybe you are apathetic and self-centered, not caring much for the needs of your neighbor, or maybe you are a big giver, but expect to receive something in return for the gifts you give. A little recognition is always a good reason to give, isn’t it? We hide the unsavory behind our acts of mercy. It is our motivation and the condition of our heart song that cannot be hidden from the God who created us.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord, we share a common bond through the grace that came through His sacrifice on the cross. It is Christ alone that justifies us, and He covers our sin, before a holy God. We can share Christ’s redemption work with others today, if we will simply choose to look beyond the labels that separate us and see with spirit eyes, the souls of those who long to experience the joy of their salvation.

If you are struggling to look beyond the differences that separate you from others, ask Jesus Christ to help you see the commonality, our similarities, and our desperate human need. He gives an extra measure of grace, whenever a willing and humble heart sets aside their personal preferences and chooses to love others the way Jesus loves them.

How far are you willing to go with matters of faith? Do you trust the Lord enough to change your heart today?

Grace and peace,

Deb Spaulding

Faith UMC - St. Charles, MO

Pray for: holy help! Every human being needs to know the love of Christ. Ask God to help you lay aside the things that separate us from each other, and learn to love the way Jesus Christ loves you.


© Copyright 2007, Deb Spaulding

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