Greetings Narrow Gate,
I am writing you today to encourage you. We are being bombarded with bad news from every direction. My message for everyone today is this: Do not let the negative news of the Covid-19 infected world get into your heart. This world was infected by sin before it was infected by this virus. We lived and overcame and prospered in a sin infected world by the grace of God. We will do the same in a Covid-19 infected world. We have, and always will, live by the grace of God. It is not any different. Sure, details are different, masks, thermometers, hand sanitizer are all in use everywhere. But our existence, individually, is by the grace of God, and it always has been. It's no different now. It's just that some of you may be realizing this for the first time. What it is that God's grace helps us to overcome does not matter. God's grace is there for us all. It is always there.
The question for all of us is how do we respond to this grace? Coming off my last two messages about getting back to the basics and virtue signaling I would like us to look at glorifying the Lord. This is a basic response to the love of Christ. It is also the basic response of a loving Son (Jesus) to his holy Father. Jesus did nothing but glorify his Father. Glorifying God is also the best way that we can be sure that the virtues that we are signaling are godly virtues and not worldly virtues.
This last point is especially important today. So many of our young, and not so young people are getting carried away with worldly destructive intentions. As children of God, our motives are just as important as our actions. We do have a higher standard. Not only are we to do the right things, but we also have to be sure that we are doing them for the right reasons.
But there is one more level to our standard. We must be sure that what we do brings glory and honor to God. If our behavior does not bring glory to God, then we have failed in our mission as children of God. If we are not bringing glory to God by our actions, who are we glorifying? If we are not signaling godly virtues, what virtues are we signaling?
Our scripture today is Jesus speaking to the disciples, just before he is arrested in the garden. John 16:31-33,
"So you believe in me now?" replied Jesus. "The time is coming, indeed it has already come, when you will be scattered, everyone of you going home and leaving me alone (sound familiar?). Yet I am not really alone (and neither are any of us), for the Father is with me. I have told you all this so that you may find your peace in me. You will find trouble in the world--but, never lose heart, I have conquered the world."
Jesus is referencing how all of the disciples will abandon him once he is arrested. Jesus is dreading the cup of wrath that he is going to drink for us. He also knows that the world will remain broken until he returns victoriously at his second advent. But he wants to encourage the disciples, to stay focused on him, and to find their peace, in him. We, like the disciples, have to learn how to survive in broken, sin infected, virus infected world.
The world will always be in trouble and turmoil, but the grace of God will always be available to us if we are in his Son, in Christ. This grace of God will always be sufficient, just the right amount that we need. Paul, in testifying to what his Lord told him, in 2 Corinthians 12:9,
"My grace is enough for you: for where there is weakness, my power is shown more completely."
This is a wonderful promise from God. I know that I am weak. This reassures me that in my weakness Christ brings to bear just the perfect amount of grace for my situation. The same is for you in your situation too. It is always this way. So do not let the world discourage you. Back to Jesus with the disciples, on the night he was betrayed. John 17: 1-4,
"When Jesus had said these words, he raised his eyes to Heaven and said, 'Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son now so that he may bring glory to you, for you have given him authority over all men and women to give eternal life to all of those that you have given to him. And this is eternal life, to know you, the only true God, and him whom you have sent--Jesus Christ. I have brought you honor (and glory) upon earth, I have completed the task you gave me to do."'
Jesus here, humbly and sweetly asking the Father to glorify his death upon the cross so as to bring glory to the Father as he bridges the gap between heaven and hell for all of us.
Jesus, sinless and perfect, did bring glory and honor upon his Father. As Jesus did so should we, right?
But we're not perfect are we? I know that there are times that I've not brought glory and honor to the Lord. I've failed, not bringing glory, but something much less to the Lord. We all have. Just because we've failed doesn't mean we stop trying to glorify the Lord.
His grace shows in our weakness, remember? We seek forgiveness, learn, grow, and try again. If we keep on trying to bring glory to the Lord, we will, by his grace. He always has the exact amount of grace that we need for every situation we face.
Let's quit worrying about the world, it's always a mess. Keep your eyes on Jesus. Let your light shine. Smile, because we serve a God who will never let us down. He is a grace cranking machine. He has enough grace for the whole world. We just have to do our part, which is to bring glory to him, just like our big brother Jesus.
Do no harm, do good, and stay in love with God.
and Harmony UMC