It's okay to be a chicken!
We sometimes become desensitized towards language. Words and phrases lose their impact over time. I do not think this means that the original content of the word, or the user’s intent changes. But, as Derrida taught me, a message can be lost between sender, message, and receiver.
While preparing my sermon on 1 Timothy 1:12-17, I was struck by the fact that I can work quite detached from what I am reading. I read the words ‘Mercy & Grace’ and handle it as if I had a grip on it. I think I understand it, and that the crowd I'm going to hurl it to, also understands it. “Really Chris?” I thought. Do I really understand the depth and implication of these words? And, for a moment, I was moved by the mercy and grace of God.
By looking at the definitions of mercy and grace, we can establish a bit more:
Grace means to receive what you do not deserve (God’s love and forgiveness). It is God’s gift to us. One side of the coin.
Mercy means to NOT receive what we deserve (condemnation). It is God’s gift to us. The other side of the coin.
Eggs, eggs, and more eggs
The overuse of these 2 words distorts the message in them. And therefore, a supplementary example will suffice:
We love eggs! You love eggs! You can do marvelous things with it. You can whip it into a foamy sugary treat. I love mine scrambled. You can serve it sunny side up, or easy over, or medium, or hard. You could ask for it poached. Yet, of all the marvelous things we can do with an egg, none reach the beauty and magnificence of God’s original intent…
For the egg to hatch and bring forth life.
Bear with me: Each egg has the potential to become a chick- To be soft and fussy and loved by its owner. Therefore, with every egg that is being cracked and fried/baked/cooked/whipped, we lose the potential of life.
The fertilized egg is absolutely in the might and power of the person holding it. You can choose to break it. Or you can choose to cherish and nurture it.
If we are the fragile egg in the hands of God, he can choose to smash us, because that is what we deserve.
Yet, He chooses to cherish it, nurture it, keep it safe and warm… so that, in time, the egg can be a witness of His patience and love. The chick will be a living testimony of His ever-present mercy and grace.
Mercy – To not smash the egg. Not receiving what is deserved.
Grace – To love and nurture. Receiving what we do not deserve.
When Paul is on the road to Damascus, he is blinded by the light of Christ. After he fell, he hears a voice: “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?” Stuttering, holding his hands to shield him from this glorious and frightening light, he answers: “Who are you, Lord?”
Is that not the most important question that we can ask? Because, in the discovery of who He is, lies the secret to who we are. There lies the secret for what we are called.
The blinding light shows Paul who he really is – An egg. Deserving of being crushed. “I am the chief amongst the sinners,” he says. Blinded, but starting to see… Groping hungrily to further discover this blinding life-giving light. And in this space, he sees himself. The total Paul in his old garments. But also, through mercy and grace, the new Paul. Mercifully spared to be paraded as an example of who God is – The patient savior, chooser of the wretched.
Have you been blinded by the light that redefines all?
Gospel of Grace
Our beliefs about success partake in our own making. Let me put it bluntly – What you (subconsciously) see as a successful life, will influence, and determine all your life choices. It is like a new gospel that you are sold out to. If you believe that success in this life is to be rich, your daily choices will align with that belief. Your life will be about your efforts to succeed in your life goal – To become wealthy.
When Jesus blinds Paul by His life-giving light, he does not just confront Paul with who he is. He sets him free of his internal beliefs about success. Paul was climbing hard to reach the top of his faith order. He was living up to his idea of success. He was willing to persecute others to reach the zeal of his life. And in that rat race of all time, Jesus confronts him and sets him free.
There is a new way. There is a new Gospel.
This gospel is all about not receiving what you deserve and receiving what you do not deserve.
Mercy and grace.
LET'S GET INTO IT
It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question. - Eugene Ionesco
If you consider the things that take up your time – What is the ‘gospel’ that you believe in?
We all come out of a certain context. What did your context teach you about ‘the ultimate successful life’?
Christ sets us free from ourselves and from our skewed perspectives about the ultimate life. That is what it means to realize that His yoke is soft and light. It's better to be under His yoke of success than under any otherworldly yoke.
What do you need to let go of your own understanding of success?
Paul breaks out into praise to God when he again experiences the depth of mercy and grace. How often do you intently praise God for his mercy and grace?
WORD INTO ACTION
What is the next step
The challenge is to let the power of the gospel trickle down to your everyday living and breathing.
What is one practical rhythmic thing that you can change in your life to focus you on the TRUE GOSPEL of Jesus?
For me, it means to get up a little earlier; To drink my first coffee with an intentional focus on who God is. Pondering the question – “Who are you, Lord, in this day of today?”
The focus of this text is on the fact that the foundation of our faith in God’s mercy and grace.
It seems to me that, to spend time in prayer, embracing and praising God for who he is, building and accepting his mercy and grace, changes us.
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
In 2018 Netflix launched a series on Bhagwan Shri Rajneesh. The name of this production is ‘Wild Wild Country’. It is about an Indian guru and the momentous rise and fall of his faith empire. I thought that it was brilliant!
In this series, you can literally see how the ‘gospel of Bhagwan’ determines the lives of his followers, and ultimately their demise.
While you are watching this, try to determine what lies at the foundation of this sect. What is it built on? Who and what ultimately gains out of this religion?
That's all for this week
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