Monday, January 23, 2012

Grace is Sufficient

If we do something, and it is not reflected on, it is worthless. We do not learn anything. We do not evaluate and improve. Reflection is necessary. But we do not always have the right perspective, so we do not see clearly.

I read a story about a group of men on a trip. Each day, they would ask each other a question to consider through out the day. On the last day, the question was "How am I doing?" Followed by asking God "how do you think I am doing?" Some of us got together and asked these same questions. (Obviously, several people have read the same story.)

Usually, my initial reaction when I begin a time of self-reflection, self-evaluation is to bury myself in an avalanche of failure. Not only my sins of commission, but my sins of omission too. Often, examples are held up before the people of God with exhortations to follow these examples. (And what is held up is good. It should be followed.) But how is one person going to make all these things happen?

I sometimes think I have a variety of an attitude called "make it happen." There are ministries to begin. There are services to undertake. The are deeds to do. It is overwhelming, but I need to "make it happen." When I press forward, it doesn't happen. And I am less likely to press forward the next time.

I have mentioned before that I once belonged to a church in which I had a finger in every pie. And it was too much. No I have a finger in next to no pies ... and I feel guilty for not doing more.

So, when I asked God "how do you think I am doing," how did he answer?

"My grace is sufficient."

My gut response was relief and peace. But I went on and asked God another question. "What does that mean?"

God's mission for his family is the restoration of his kingdom in the universe. It is the transformation of all mankind into his image. If someone thinks about God's purposes on this level, that person can only be faced with the realization that it is an impossible task. If someone reduces God's purposes down to its lowest component -- the transformation of a single human heart to a reflection of God's image -- it is still an impossible task. I cannot jump inside the human heart and re-arrange its interior so that afterwards the person looks and acts like Jesus. Even if I am involved in fifty activities that are designed to bring that to pass, it is still impossible.

That's why God injects himself into every situation. That's why God wants each of his children to invite him into each circumstance. Only he has power over hearts. If God's grace is introduced into a setting, an event or a situation, it can have magnitudes of order greater effect than anyone or any group of human can have.

This does not negate the need for God's family to take action. They need to respond to, to initiate, to serve and to love. (And I think each member of God's family should be invested somewhere. And perhaps most of the members will be invested out side of the meeting.) But the results are not our responsibility. And because our target is the transformation of hearts, complete success may look like dismal failure. And because God's agent is the family of God, each act completed with love, faithfulness, prayer and in the Spirit, is overwhelming victory, leading to the restoration of God's kingdom and the resolution of his promises.

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