God’s Grace

The Foolishness of the Cross…

Today I want to focus on the absolute stupidity of Christianity.That’s right Christianity is absolutely ridiculous! It is ridiculous to those who do not have Jesus. However if like me, you do have Jesus, then living in a world that just doesn’t get it, then life without Jesus, is every bit as crazy.

Sometimes life is a bit like the future as depicted in H.G.Wells book, ‘The Time Machine’, where the human race has devolved into two incompatible groups, the peaceful, idyllic living ‘Eloi’ and the brutal, underground dwelling, blood thirsty ‘Morlocks’.

The lives of both groups, along with their purpose and meaning, are just world’s apart.

As a Christian, my life is world’s apart from those who do not know Jesus. Though often these people will be in my life circle, my motivations and life choices will always be a mystery to them.

The difference between us is engraved in stone.

Life without Jesus is reduced to the ‘dash’ between two dates on a tombstone. Life as a Christian however, is not defined by time at all; we call it ‘eternal life’.

If my life is nothing more than a dash, then making the most of that dash, surrendering to the dash, or opting out early are the only choices available.

If my life is not defined by a tombstone, then clearly I am playing by a set of rules, that make absolutely no sense to those, who do not have Jesus.

No wonder the Bible states;

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 1 Corinthians 1:18 NKJV

The problem that creates is this, “If a person believes the Cross to be foolishness today, does that seal their fate for eternity?” If I don’t buy into the Jesus thing right now, am I forever without hope?

The obvious answer to the question is no, after all we do believe in evangelism. Which in turn places a great importance on evangelism. We need to be telling others we believe in Jesus.

While we are at this point, because we won’t be coming back to this today, let me say, that Evangelism is primarily personal testimony. If you come to me and tell me I should buy such and such because its a good product, I probably will not buy it. However if you come to me and in the course of conversation, you tell that you had bought that product and you for reasons you explain to me are very happy with, I might just buy it. Thats the difference between ‘peddling our faith and sharing our faith.

Now if someone else comes along and tells the same story of success, I am really starting to think about this, because two of my friends have tried it and were quite satisfied. Now if several of my friends are using this product and their all happy, guess what, I’m probably quite open.

So our job is not to convert people, but rather share our faith and help our friends find their’s.

Now all this is good when it comes to cars or tv’s, but faith is still a real hard sell. This is where ‘Grace’ begins to work.

A Little thing called Stubbornness.

The reason faith is a hard sell is because of human stubbornness. The fact is, most people have their fair share of stubbornness. It is usually measured not in ounces, but by bucketfuls.

It works like this, I have a problem, you come along and tell me how to fix, I will immediately look for another way. Because to follow your advice makes you superior. Unless you have established your superiority, like through an apprentice master relationship, I will not want to give over to you, the belief that you are smarter than me.

So the next person comes along and says to you, ‘Wow, that is really tough, I’m not sure what you should do, maybe you could do this or you could do that, have you thought about such and such?’ In giving their advice as a suggestion, hidden inside a question, while recognizing that I have to make the choice. I am much more likely to accept their advice. Their answer instead of enslaving me, has empowered me.

Now the thing with faith, is that when I suggest to somebody, that they need to follow Jesus, not only am I pressing their stubborn button, but I am also telling them that every part of their life up to now has been wasted. That is like pressing the ‘Super Stubborn Button’.

So then how can a person be saved if telling some one about Jesus has the opposite effect.

Well that comes down to three things.

First, God has to create a hunger in the heart. This comes back to those Mountain top Wow moments that God gives us all from time to time. This creates a desire to draw closer to God, which is frustrated by the lack of a clear path.

Second comes Testimony from a Christian, who gently tells the person, their story of being found by God and learning to walk with Him.

Then comes the freedom for the individual to make their own choice, thus disarming the ‘spirit of stubbornness’.

Finally the Holy Spirit is working, whispering, drawing, calling. This is what we call Grace.

Grace

The curious thing about grace is that God gives it freely, we do not ask for grace, Yet God still continually gives grace even though we did not seek it.

Grace is different to forgiveness or Salvation. These two things must be asked for.

In 1 John 1:9 we read,  If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness

Note that this is a conditional verse, it starts with the word ‘if’. Now the access may be conditional, but the result is not. Forgiveness is ours, it is willingly given to us by God, but we have to ask for it.

Grace is not conditional, it given whether we ask for it or not.

Grace is the opportunities that you did not ask for, grace is the moments of awareness of the reality of God, that appear out of nowhere, Grace is God trying to get your attention.

Grace is that incredible moment when you are sitting quietly, and you intuit that this world is somehow different.

It is the Holy Spirit speaking inaudible words that stir your spirit.

You are sitting quietly drawing in a magnificent, view, perhaps a seascape from foot of a lighthouse, or a rocky outcrop on a mountainside, or you are scanning the starry heavens on a calm and cloudless night. Suddenly things start to happen inside you, a spirit of worship begins to respond, as you understand the reality and hugeness of God. Yet in seeing how big He is, you recognize that He knows your name. In the midst of this vastness, though we be not even a speck when viewed from such great distances, we recognize that we still matter to Him.

That is grace! That is God reaching down from His heaven and touching your soul.

And when those touches are real, and when those touches are recent and the soul is still stirring, the testimony of Christian who has found life in Christ, has a whole new dynamic, because the person listening hungers for those words.

The theologians call this grace, ‘Prevenient Grace’, which means the grace that is given to a person before they are saved, so that they can be saved.

Why does God do this?

Two reasons

Bragging rights and ‘puppy love’.

Let’s talk about ‘Puppy Love’

No I am not talking about teenage infatuation, I’m talking about the way a puppy just through their cuteness can win our hearts. Which is a good thing, because the next year of helping that puppy grow into the perfect pet can be quite grueling, and if they were not so cute, you would never bother.

I mean, if the looked like over grown earth slugs all covered with slime and totally lacking personality, would you let them into your home, to chew your furniture and mess up your carpets?

Of course not. Its why God made babies and puppies cute, so we would over look all their shortcomings and live in hope of a better result tomorrow.

We are made in God’s image, this inherent desire to nurture and love, is a reflection of the nature of God, and a trait of ‘God-Like-Ness’ in all of us.

We care, we give, we continue, because of hope, and because of the desire to within us to achieve something good in the life of another. ‘The real definition of Puppy Love’, is the belief, hope and desire to love that which at times is quite unlovable, with a very different outcome in mind.

Bragging Rights

A comedian once noted that the genetic make up of his children was determined by their behavior. When his son behaved well, his wife would boast proudly of ‘Her boy’, however on days when the scorecard was not so good, the child suddenly became the genetic property of his father. Coming home from work, he remarked that his wife had transformed into a frightful fire breathing monster, who would yell at him as he entered through the door. “HE’S YOUR SON, DEAL WITH HIM!”

All jokes aside though, we love to brag about our kids. It gets worse as we get older, because our kids have kids; and we now have even more offspring, that now demonstrate to the world, our genetic perfection.

Of course this is perfectly natural, because we are made in the image of God. “What!” you say, “Surely God does not brag!”

Check your Bible, He sure has one big bragging session planned and if you belong to Jesus, you are a part of the genetic perfection, that God wants to boast about.

The first five verses of Ephesians Chapter 2 explains how God took us from empty lives filled with destruction and hopelessness, and how through the work of Jesus, He was able to save and transform us.

Then in verse 6 we discover that God’s idea is that when this world is wrapped up and finished, He will gather us all in Heaven around Throne, demonstrating the glory of His plan of salvation in Christ.

How awesome is that? One day God will bring us all before His throne, and boast about us, just as any giddy eyed parent boasts about their own children.

So this is Grace.

God’s gentle touch in your heart to create in you the desire to draw near to Him, based on His belief that despite your failings there remains something precious inside you that is worth saving.

So here is the question, “If God is delighted to save you, and He is! Should you not equally be delighted to walk with Him?

In the end, the Choice is yours.

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