Faith. Hope. Love.

It's been a rough week.

I watched high school students crowd around the casket of their Senior friend, Trey Taulton, and weep over his sudden and inexplicable death.

I watched my husband and his fellow coaches grapple with the loss of Trey while trying to minister to the young men on their football team.

I watched my beloved city, my Big D, become paralyzed with fear as we react to the Ebola scare.

In case you didn't know it, we live in a broken world. This week proves that.

Throughout the woes of the week, my mind keeps going back to the message that I heard on Sunday at church. (You know it's a powerful message when you are still thinking about it on Thursday.)

Here is the link to the message.

If you don't take the time to watch it (but I hope that you will), here are my notes:

This is the last message in a three-part series on the story of the Prodigal Son entitled "Divine Insanity" by Lakepointe's teaching pastor, Jared Herd. This part of the story focuses on the response of the "other" brother--the one who stayed while the younger brother gets lured by the temptation of the "distant country" (Luke 15:11-24). This is about the "other" brother's response (Luke 15:25-32). I admit that I see myself in the "other" brother, and I am not proud. I think many Christians, especially those who have grown up in Church, will identify if they are truly honest with themselves. 

  • When we run to God, he meets us with Grace. NO MATTER WHAT. (This is what Part 2 "The God Who Runs" was about.) 
  • We crave Grace (especially when we are in trouble), but Grace is the last thing that we want to extend when others have wronged us. Instead we seek justice. We want fairness. 
  • We want Grace for ourselves and justice for everybody else. 
  • When the little brother comes home, he is reconciled with his father. He will not have to pay for his mistakes.  This makes the older brother furious, and he throws a fit basically saying "It's not fair that I've served you all these years, and you've never thrown a party for me." 
  • This is Jesus' way to say to the older son (and to the Pharisees who were listening), "You don't get to decide how the Father distributes Grace."
  • Grace can be OFFENSIVE because it doesn't make sense in our human terms: 
    • It's not about justice. 
    • It's not about fairness. 
  • The DIVINE INSANITY of GRACE is that "Everybody gets in through the same door." 
  • Jesus is telling the Pharisees--YOU don't get to decide who gets in and who doesn't. That's NOT YOUR JOB. 
  • GRACE = WE ALL COME IN THROUGH THE SAME DOOR. There's no VIP entrance. There's no secret back door. The only way in is through Jesus--THE CROSS paid our way in!
  • We want to run a dividing line through humanity--Good vs Bad. Those who deserve Grace and those who don't. But that's not how God wants it:
    • The line is God and then everyone else. 
    • The line is God and everybody who needs God's Grace.
  • Don't be like the younger brother--prone to wander. Don't be like the older brother--self-rightous. Look who Jesus liked being around--the "unclean;" the "sinners;" these were His peeps, and they liked being around Him. Be like the Father---GIVE AND RECEIVE the GRACE
  • Grace--YOU CAN'T EARN IT. That's not how this Grace thing works. 
  • EVERYONE can RECEIVE God's Grace, and that's the FREEDOM and the POWER of this story. 

Why am I thinking about the unbelievable gift of God's Grace during a week like this?
How can I not?

It's not the tragic loss of a teenage boy that keeps me up at night.
It's not the fear of catching Ebola that makes me lose sleep.

It's the fact that there are people in this broken world who CRAVE the Peace and Mercy and Grace that only Jesus can provide, yet they don't think that they are worthy of His love. It's the fact that these precious people don't think they deserve His love because they have been told that they are "lesser" in the eyes of God. They have been told that they have to clean up their lives before they present themselves to God. THIS IS NOT TRUE. No matter how shiny we make our lives, they WILL NEVER be good enough for God. NEVER. And that's NOT what God wants. That's NOT what this story is about.

I lose sleep at night because God is waiting, willing, and ready to extend his GRACE, and there are people who feel that they aren't worthy because...well, I think you know the reason. We Christians can be our own worst enemy. My Christian friends, we MUST ask ourselves: Are we like the Pharisees or are we like the father? 

I couldn't survive a day in this crazy world without my Faith. But let me make this clear: My belief in Jesus Christ does not promise me an easy life. Oh no. That's not how this Grace thing works, either. God's Grace is not a magic ticket to Easy Street. His Grace is an assurance that He holds us in His Hands--through fear and doubt and death and uncertainty. He holds us. And He won't let go.

My belief in Jesus makes this life bearable. My belief in Jesus makes this life beautiful.

And I want that for everyone. THAT'S what weighs heavy on my heart.

How do I help my unbeliever friends to reach out and receive this Grace--the gift from a God who loves them?

Tell them they are wrong?
Tell them they have to "clean up" their lives before they present themselves to God?

No.
I will love them. Because that's all I know to do.

Love people. That's His greatest commandment. Love them in their brokenness. Love them in their shame. Love them in their time of need. Love them when they are unlovable. It's not easy. But it's His way.

Because that's how He loves me. In my brokenness. In my shame. In my time of need. When I'm unlovable.


Faith over fear
Hope over despair
Love over judgement

But the greatest of these is Love.

Always.


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