For this reason it depends on faith, in order that the promise
may rest on grace.” Reflect on these words. This simple
sentence offers a critical truth. We can do nothing to earn God’s
grace. We can do nothing to deserve God’s grace. We can do
nothing to force God’s grace. The grace of God—unconditional
love, acceptance and forgiveness—is a gift in the purest sense of
the word. God offers grace to all; our only response is acceptance
Human beings spend an inordinate amount of time in worry
and anxiety. Are we good enough? Are we worthy? Are we too
broken and corrupted? What all is wrong with us? How in the
world can a holy God want to have anything to do with us?
Theologians have built entire theological frameworks on the
notion of our fallen, dirty, and shameful human nature. Some
Christian communities spend much more time deciding who
doesn’t belong and who isn’t acceptable rather than who needs
the love, grace, and mercy of God.
Most of us are baptized into the faith as babies, with representatives
accepting the faith on our behalf. Some of us choose
this faith for ourselves. But through baptism, we are made
acceptable to God and to one another in the fellowship. We
acknowledge the free gift of God’s grace and promise to live it
before one another.
This understanding lies at the heart of incarnational theology:
We are made one with Christ, one with each other, and
one in service to all the world. We become the body of Christ
together. The question is never “who belongs and who doesn’t,”
but “where does each one fit in?” As we become one in heart,
mind, and spirit, God makes us who God needs us to be.
Make us one, Lord, make us one. Help us to accept one another as you accept us, that we may be sources of acceptance, welcome, love, and forgiveness to everyone we meet. Amen.
Faith in God and deliverance by God are themes that dominate these scriptures. Abraham casts aside all baser loyalties and in daring fashion entrusts life and well- being to God’s care. Abraham follows God’s initiatives into new realms of loyalty and purpose. Paul reminds us that while Abraham models good works, his righteousness results from his faith. Nicodemus models an Abraham who has yet to leave Ur of the Chaldees. Nicodemus’s comprehension of God’s initiatives is shallow and sterile. The psalm for this day greets with joy God’s invitation to renewal.
• Read Genesis 12:1-4a. How is God calling you to leave behind the familiar for some new opportunity?
• Read Psalm 121. What aspect of this psalm draws your attention? What offers you comfort and hope? To whom do you turn for help?
• Read Romans 4:1-5, 13-17. What distinction do you draw between your doing great things for God and God’s doing great things through you?
• Read John 3:1-17. What experience does the phrase born again bring to your mind? Does it foster positive notions? In what ways do you evidence your baptism in the Spirit?
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