After months of preparation and planning my daughter's wedding is in the books! It was a beautiful time with family and friends watching Stephanie and Zach begin their new life together as husband and wife. But now it is time to get back to business!
Over the past few weeks Dawn Orr and I have been broadcasting a Bible study on Paul's book to the Romans. Every Friday at 8 AM MST we share our study on Becoming Christlike live on BlogTalk Radio. You can listen to us at www.bemorechristlike.com if you are interested.
It has been during this recent study that God has been calling my attention to a very powerful and peaceful word...Grace. Most commentaries define grace as "unmerited favor". Simply put...we don't get what we really deserve. What we deserve is death but because of God's grace, through Jesus Christ, we receive life. Instead of death I get life. That sounds like a great deal! And it would be but for one simple problem. God expects us to share that grace with others. And that is where the trouble begins.
I have spent the last few months taking inventory of my life in Christ. I don't think that it is fair for me to host a show encouraging others to become more and more Christlike if I am not going to make the effort to do the same. It was during this time of self reflection that I asked God to show me areas of my life where I might share His grace more with others and to open my eyes to where we, the body of Christ, could do a better job of walking the walk and not just talking the talk. I am happy to say that God has spoken to me in both areas of concern.
One of the hardest things about serving God is that we have a tendency to get down on ourselves when God's Spirit convicts us of our shortcomings. It's natural to feel bad when we think we have let God down. Perhaps it was words we said when shouldn't have spoken or maybe it was words we should have shared but remained silent. In either case guilt has a tendency to grab hold of our spirit and refuse to let go. My guilt comes from a situation in which I felt I should have spoken up but decided, rather, to remain silent. My remarks in this blog are not an attempt to try and rectify my inaction but rather to serve as a cautionary tale to others who might find themselves in the same situation in the future.
I believe that God places within each of us a kind of spiritual barometer. It tells us when there is a storm brewing in the midst of our life or the lives of others and we pay a price when we don't pay attention to that barometer. Over the past few months I witnessed an event that I knew to be wrong, knew to be hurtful, and knew to be devastating to those whom I loved. And, yet, I said and did nothing to stop it. What I did do was make excuses to why I shouldn't say anything, rationalized as to why I couldn't do anything, and, in the end, accomplished my goal of doing nothing!
I remained silent as people I love, respect, and care about were dragged through the mud and muck of denominational dogma and religious legalism that would make the Pharisees cringe. I knew it was wrong and I did nothing. People who care for me and know my situation tell me that " I have done nothing for which I should be ashamed." But the truth is I did nothing and for that I am ashamed.
I think what bothers me most is that I saw an assault on grace and I talked myself into turning a blind eye and a silent tongue to the whole ordeal. The feeling that I let loved ones down I can deal with but it is the fact that I feel like I let God down that burdens my soul. In short, I feel guilty.
This is not the first time this has happened to me but I hope it will be the last. And to make sure of that there is a question that needs to be addressed and that question is, "What am I going to do the next time something like this happens?". And after considering that question in detail over the past few weeks, this is my answer.
I have spent way too much time discerning the motives of others instead of concentrating on my own motives. I have allowed my anger towards others to rob me of my example of God's grace for others. And I have let the actions of others dictate my actions. In short, I blew it!
At this point you might be asking yourself, "What should you have done Derek?", and that would be a great question. To change the sentiment from a position of regret to a position of action I will not tell you what I should have done but rather what what I will do next time. The next time I feel God calling me to speak out against an injustice I will speak. I will seek to do it in love, but I will speak. The next time I am faced with the choice of doing nothing or doing something I will do something. I will do it in love but I will do it. And the next time I am faced with the choice of choosing between denominational "do's and dont's " and displaying the grace of God in my life I will choose GRACE!
Brothers and sister Christianity is not something we live by it is something we live out! Grace is not a set of rules that we hold up to the world and proclaim our righteousness because we are "by the book" people. We spend so much time trying to live "by the book" that we forget what it says "in the book".
Hebrews 12:15 says "See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled".
Now, I must set my heart right again and seek to do that which Christ has called me to do...forgive. I must forgive myself for the guilt I have carried and I must forgive those whom I have harbored anger towards. For it is in that forgiveness where the grace of God abounds. And it is in that grace where I find peace.
May each of us seek the grace of God each day of our lives and may the power of God's Spirit enable His grace to flow through us!
Until next time,