Now someone came up to him and said, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to gain eternal life?” He said to him, “Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. But if you want to enter into life, keep the commandments.” “Which ones?” he asked. Jesus replied, “Do not murder, donot commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to him, “I have wholeheartedly obeyed all these laws. What do I stilllack?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be perfect, go sell your possessionsand give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Thencome, follow me.” But when the young man heard this he went away sorrowful, for he was very rich.
(Matthew 19:16-24, NET BIBLE)
Think: I don’t usually think of myself as very rich. I don’t have to look very far to find people who have nicer cars, bigger houses, and nicer clothes. But living in one of the wealthiest countries in the world has a way of messing up our perspective. The truth is, I’m loaded. Just the fact that I have a house, a car, and clothes (never mind how “nice” they are) puts me well ahead of most people in the world.
Read the rest of this devotional at The Skit Guys blog.
Imagine the feeling of being chosen… maybe when you were a kid and for once you were the first one chosen by the team captain at recess. Remember how that felt? You felt special and important; “I am wanted and valued”. Or what about the job that you really wanted and the interview was really tough but you were selected and given the position! That feeling is amazing and gives us so much confidence. It also gives us some pressure to perform and live up to the expectations of the one whom chose us.
Another scenario is a bit different – remember what it was like when that guy chose you and told you that he loves you no matter what? You don’t have to prove ourselves but rather just accept the gift of love that is offered. You have already done everything you can do to win his heart and he doesn’t demand any lists of tasks in order to make him love you more or to keep loving you.
I think this is a reflection of being chosen by God. Paul says in Eph. 1:4 “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” He chose us to be holy not because we were holy!! So love, choosing, and grace were extended before we were holy or perfect or blameless or even created! We were chosen as creations of God and because of his love — for no other reason! Stop a moment and reflect on this fact…
Our human love for each other is just a dim shadow of the immense love of the Father for us but it is what we can relate to. It just makes this love of God that much more amazing to compare how it feels to be loved unconditionally here on earth with how much MORE the love of God is for us individually.
“But there must be something I have to DO?” you say. The loving and amazing answer is “No”. Grace has already been given to us “Because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions – it is by grace you have been saved.” (Eph. 2:4-5) The most amazing thing is that the saving is already done! There is nothing you can do to make yourself “more saved”. We must just accept this gift.
Knowing that we are saved brings us freedom in our Christian life (see Gal. 5:1). Paul discusses the law vs. grace many places throughout his writings and he gives this important warning: “You, my brothers, were called to be free, but do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love. The entire law is summed up in a single command: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself’.” (Gal. 5:13-14) So it comes full circle and the love that has been extended to us in “unmerited favor” we too should extend to others in acts of service and unconditional love.
I heard someone at church recently say, “It’s good to see the body of Christ together this morning!” The statement was followed by a number of “amens” from those who where there. I was disturbed by the visual of a body scattered in pieces all over town. I’m not a doctor but I know that a hand away from the arm can’t function properly or survive very long. And yet, this is what we have done to the concept of church. If we think that the body of Christ coming together means going to church we are sadly mistaken. You see, the Body of Christ should ALWAYS be together, because togetherness has nothing to do with proximity. Look at what Paul writes…
1 Corinthians 12:25-27 (The Message)
The way God designed our bodies is a model for understanding our lives together as a church: every part dependent on every other part, the parts we mention and the parts we don’t, the parts we see and the parts we don’t. If one part hurts, every other part is involved in the hurt, and in the healing. If one part flourishes, every other part enters into the exuberance. You are Christ’s body—that’s who you are! You must never forget this.”
The danger with our current thinking is that a monster is created when on the weekend you throw a bunch of parts together, and then add a bit of singing and preaching to “electrify” this body. Many times the result is scary. Welcome to the Church of Frankenstein.