Death is our Reward
Incomparable riches of His Grace(Ephesians 2:7). How can I convey the riches of God's Grace? This has been my challenge since my ordination, perhaps since my baptism.
Traditionally, I have heard Grace explained as something we receive. It's explained in relation to our sin and its exoneration. "Grace" and "Sin" are religious words that hold meaning to the practiced or practicing Christian. I believe this is why, traditionally, we have worked so hard at educating the "lost" about sin before we can offer them salvation. The traditional frame of thinking seems to be, "No one wants a cure if they don't know they're sick."
First, we know we're sick. Even after salvation, we're still sick. Life is hard. Our egos collide into one another. We are like stars with no gravitational pull. Planets that continually collide, throwing pieces of ourselves and others to the wind. There are no rules or order as we barrel through the universe. We are the lead character in our own mini series. Like forests, cities, or landscapes, we consider people as the backdrop to our leading role. We relegate everyone as only necessary to tell our story. That's called the ego, and when several hundred million egos collide the product is vomit, refuse, pain, famine, death, and horror.
Then, God enters the horror. Suddenly, he makes a way in the vomit, blood, and chaos. The cosmic disaster fights back. A man named Abraham doesn't believe God will give him a son. A man named Jacob refuses to trust and wrestles against God for the sake of his own ego. Eleven brothers sell the youngest into slavery to Egypt and convince their father he is dead. An entire people resort to decorating sticks and metal in the wilderness. Out of fear they are more worried about their grumbling bellies than cleaning up the vomit, blood, and chaos. They return to it and hope life will be better. God is carving out sanity in the nightmare, and He is faithful.
The last paragraph will be familiar to Christians. For those who may not know the stories of Israel, look at us today. A daughter who returns to a violent boyfriend or husband. A father, son, or cousin who's life is addiction (heroin, meth, alcohol . . .etc.). A needy woman on the corner who plays the victim, she thrives off drama and the sympathy of others. The neighbor who judges our every move. The lies we tell others and we tell ourselves. The times we get ice-cream and ignore our debts. The comments we make about someone else's lifestyle to justify our jealousy. The sex, affairs, and cheating we fill our lives with at the cost of others. Our hateful games and fake apologies to gain the advantage over the world. The rage that fills us when we feel short-changed. These are the ego. The vomit, blood, and chaos is the product as we slam through the universe unfettered. "I am the star of this show, everyone else be damned!" We scream into the night.
Now, enters Jesus. The embodiment of God's Grace. He teaches us to value one another. God now completes His work. Where he was once carving, he now redeems it all. The blood, vomit, and chaos fights back. They will take everything he has. They hang him on a cross. "The power is ours!" They scream.
But you can't take what is given.
"Allow me to wash your feat." Jesus said.
He took the posture of a servant.
"Father forgive them." Jesus asked, as he hung dying.
"Peter, feed my sheep." Jesus whispered to Peter. "Do you love me?"
"Yes, Lord." Peter answered. "You know that I do."
"Then, feed my sheep." (John 21:15-17)
In the Old Contract (Old Testament) death was used as punishment. They feared death. The ultimate punishment was death. In the New Contract (New Testament) death is the reward. We are born again once we die to our old self. After death there is a beautiful eternity.
Incomparable riches of His Grace (Ephesians 2:7). In the New Kingdom of God (New Covenant) no one is short-changed. No one has power over you, because you willingly gave it to God. You may have my life, because it's not mine. I have given my life to God. His will, His goodness is what I live for. If you have a problem, take it up with my master.
I will protect my heart and my decisions with His righteous choices. I no longer fear death, for death is only the beginning. I will love and sacrifice at the cost of my own life.
These are the riches of His Grace.
You may treat me however you wish, I am fortified and confident in who I am in Christ. This confidence frees me from the responsibility of being right. The need to elevate myself.
Yes it will hurt. But I will have peace in my soul.
If we lived in such a way, we would find our orbits in the universe. The colliding, pain, blood, vomit, and chaos would end. Order and love would reign. There would be healing of the nations. Our fruit would change this world and bring life.
These are the incomparable riches of His Grace.
Life through Love.
May you feed His sheep
May you allow others to short-change you and feel peace
May you protect your heart and life with righteous decisions
May you stand firm in peace
May you hear the words, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
In His service and yours,