Grace and Love

Thus says the Lord: The people who survived the sword found grace in the wilderness; when Israel sought for rest, the Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.

-Jeremiah 31:2-3 (NRSV)

We live in a day and age where love does not seem to be well-defined at all. It has evolved into something to be cherished when convenient, but easily disposed of when inconvenient or just “not fun any more.” Fortunately, that is not the way God defines love. If it were, I fear humanity would have perished long ago for its attitudes and actions.

God continues to demonstrate the validity of those words even today in this modern, scientific, disbelieving world. People demand proof, scientific ‘evidence’ of the existence of our Creator. To them I say, look around and [in the tradition of King James’ rendering] behold! God is as much alive and active in today’s world as in days of old. Just as then, we need to be open as His people to hearing His voice and seeing the wonderful things He does in this age.

Many people of various Christian tradition are celebrating the season of Lent. During this time, as we reflect on the sacrifice that Christ has made for us and what is expected from us, let us not forget to look around and see how His gift of grace is as necessary in the modern age as ever.

And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. – John 1:14 (NRSV)

Blessed

1 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
-Matthew 5:1-12 (KJV)

Making the best of a bad situation…

As discussed in the previous post, Joshua got into a bit of a bind when he made a pact with his neighbors (people of Gibeon) before consulting the Lord. Despite having been deceived, he was bound to honor the oath they made in the name of God.

So what, if any, good could come out of a situation when the people of Israel are now forced to live with the consequences of their mistake? Let’s check the scriptures and find out: So Joshua saved them from the Israelites, and they did not kill them. That day he made the Gibeonites woodcutters and water carriers for the assembly, to provide for the needs of the altar of the Lord at the place the Lord would choose. And that is what they are to this day. – Joshua 9:26-27 (NIV)

As we see from this story, although Joshua and his people were forced to honor an agreement they made in haste (without seeking the Lord’s guidance) they were at least able to take some good from it — they now had servants for the assembly and people to attend to the needs of the altar of the Lord. So, while not an ideal situation, there were still ways for the consequences to glorify the Lord.

When facing the consequences of our actions, turning to God in prayer and repentance always provides solutions that glorify Him and, therefore, work to our good in so doing.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28 (NIV)