Wednesday, June 6, 2012

But for the Grace of God...

This morning I received an email update from friends serving in a very difficult ministry assignment internationally. They shared the struggle of a partner in the ministry who woke up one night to his elementary-aged son's inexplicable violent vomiting. Less than 24 hours later the young boy slipped into eternity. They shared how a small village was wiped out by flash flooding when a sudden rain storm hit their area and how a bus careened off of a steep mountain into a cavernous abyss killing all on board. They shared a few other excruciating tales of heartache and challenge, restating their resolve to serve and minister by citing the oft quoted but too little felt truth - "There but for the grace of God go I." "The Grace of God" - something that the political season in which we find ourselves immersed seems to have pushed as far away from our speech and interactions as Venus' next solar transition. It is true that the political process that defines how government is executed in the United States necessitates debate. It guarantees a clash of ideas and an inevitable struggle as citizens attempt to determine what is best for the us, the conglomeration of points of view and opinions known throughout our founding documents as "We the People."

I do not begrudge anyone's right to share their opinion, debate the opinions of others or make the cae for what they believe to be right. It is among the rights we in the United States believe are God-given. Nevertheless, I am wearying of people from all sides of seemingly every argument stating their every case with a total vilification of those with an opposing view or using the language of brinkmanship with every argument they make. If every utterance is one that declares, "Vote for my choice or it's the Apocalypse!" the truly apocalyptic issues get swamped in a sea of less significant considerations. What's behind this increase in pomposity and arrogance? I believe it's an increase in the belief that it is not God Who has made us, be rather an inner conviction that we have made ourselves. The Grace of God cannot abound where it is not perceived to be a need. If I deserve all the good I have and those who do not have are merely getting what's coming to them, my view of how to work the common good is skewed, even if my stance is correct.

Scripture instructs Christians to communicate in this way: "Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person." Notice the word ALWAYS! There is no occasion for those who follow Christ to communicate out of arrogance or self- aggrandization. We must always keep in mind that even when we communicate a painful truth that will shake our audience to the core, we are communicating not from our own righteousness or deserving, but from the righteousness an deserving of our Lord. The recognition that we are not standing on our own merit but on the merit of the One Who died for us and rose again that we might have hope, joy and a godly confidence that should “govern our engines” and cause us to share the convictions of our heart with Grace and love.

With those truths in mind, don't fail to share your convictions, if so led. BUT, make sure that when you do, you're not puffed up with pride as one sharing as if you are more deserving than those who do not hold your convictions, but model the walk of Jesus who did not revile those who mistreated Him but prayed for them, even as He was crucified. Remember that because of His Work on the cross, it is truly possible to proclaim with humble thanksgiving, "But for the Grace of God, where would I be?" Until next time...