SEPTEMBER 14, 2020 MONDAY
But when the goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour appeared, he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit. This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour, so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. —Titus 3: 4-7
Dear Beloved of God,
The text above is a Christmas Day reading. When Jesus appears, everything changes. I prefer to say, when it was time, God disclosed the “Great Reveal.” In the beginning of creation – in the dream, plan, intention of God for this world, the universe – for you or me — long before we arrived here – it is set – was, is and will be.
“The goodness and loving-kindness of God our Saviour” — many Christians start at the other end — Fear. If that’s what gets your attention, fine. But we can’t stay there. God’s love, not fear, draws us into relationship. Fear repels. We no more work our way into righteousness than we worked getting ourselves into this world. As Jesus tells Nicodemus – “from above,” God’s Spirit – not earned, but prayed for, waited for, awakening to its presence all around us, before we knew who is saving us, and it is not “we ourselves.” God’s beauty and grace — is the energy that draws us into our saving.
You and I live each moment in the tenderness of God. You need no longer carry fear that you are not loved by God, not worthy enough, have not done enough. Our task is not to organize the means that get us to a desired end, but simply BE in each moment of awareness, an end in itself. You are already saved, by grace, God’s goodness and loving-kindness. In Genesis, the story of Adam, Eve and the garden fiasco is not news to God. God lets us choose. We sometimes make foolish choices, make mistakes, think unkind thoughts, size someone up before we really get to know them. We fail, listen to the wrong advice — unable to see the difference between a snake and a wisdom teacher.
You and I are saved – not by our goodness or badness — but by God’s mercy. Grace. A woman in a Bible study kept wanting to counter God’s grace with fear of the Lord. It was her motive to escape God’s wrath. She believed fear of God gets your attention, and keeps you obedient. I was taught that. But that wasn’t what kept my attention focused on God. It was when I realized as theologian Kevin O’Shea writes — “One rejoices in being unfrightened to be open to the healing presence, no matter what one might be or have done.” It’s the tender mercy of God that holds our attention, nothing we have done or can do – good or bad. It all begins in God. In water, by Spirit, you are sealed in Christ. Rejoice!