The Easter celebration is the remembrance of the most important event in all of history. It was the day the justice of God and the mercy of God met. Jesus’ mission was completed when he died on the cross. The bad news of sin in your life was met with the good news offered only by Jesus. If you ignore what Jesus did, then you get God’s justice. If you accept what Jesus did for you, then you get his justice and mercy in the form of His grace.
Don’t think of Easter as just another holiday. Remember it for what it was – the reconciliation of God and people.
Imagine you were a basketball player and someone came to you and said that they could put the fullness of NBA superstar Kobe Bryant into you. Would you take it? If you did, you would go on to be one of the greatest players in the game. If you’re a business leader and someone came to you said they could give you the fullness of legendary businessman Bill Gates. Wouldn’t you take it? If you did, then you would be able to make business decisions unlike you’ve ever made before and move into great success.
You’ll never receive the special fullness of a business or sports superstar, but you can receive the fullness of the foremost superstar of universe, Jesus Christ. When you receive the grace of God, not only do you receive forgiveness and salvation from sin but you also receive the full power of Jesus Christ inside of you. Grace is more than receiving a free pass from punishment, it is the receiving of a power unlike anything you’ve ever received so that you can live like Jesus and love others like Jesus did. When you become a Christian, a mighty power starts to work in you and through you. This power can enable you to be the best at what God has put you on the earth to do. The grace of God intends to distinguish you so that you can heal the world through the power of Jesus for the sake and honor of God.
Grace is one of the most misunderstood and most attacked tenants of the Christian faith.
As a Christian you know that God’s grace saved you (from sin and Hell), but afterwards it’s easy to act like works keeps you safe. The Christian life is one of outward works which are signs/evidence of an inward change, but outward works never earned God’s favor and they don’t keep God’s favor. We do good works to honor God and live like Jesus, but it is God’s grace and his Spirit that makes us new and guides us into the perfection God wants in our lives. It’s not the works you do that fix you.
We hold onto works because we don’t listen to who God says we are – a beloved child and friend of His. A person works for God’s love and his liking because they don’t fully accept that God already loves them and likes them. A life transformed by grace is a life of good, outward action and at the same time it is a life at peace, not striving to do good, but one that rests in the grace of God trusting first in the secure love of God.
Be encouraged by Casey’s message and know that you don’t have to work for God’s favor. Joy and peace in your life will come when you trust in the fact that God loved you and chose you before you did anything good.
When we become a Christian one of the first questions we ask is, “what am I supposed to do now?” You ask an older, more experienced Christian help you figure out what to do; to tell you the rules of the game. So, an older Christian comes along and says, “Well, that’s easy. Here’s what I’ve learned during my life. Do this, don’t do that, do a lot of this, and be sure to stay away from that.”
Within a short period of time, well-intended advice can become a wrong standard of salvation. More mature believers might sometimes unknowingly take good advice and turn it into a roadblock pointing people away from Jesus. We all want the rules of the game, but it’s a fine balance to keep advice from turning to performance based rules.
This is what the older Jewish Christians did for the new Gentile Christians in Acts 15. The new Christian men asked, “What now?” The older, more experienced men of God said, “That’s easy. For starters, get circumcised. This has been the practice of God-honoring men since the days of Abraham. It worked for my father and my sons. It is the law God gave us. So, come on, let’s make an appointment down at the clinic.” Then they took it further and added, “And if you don’t, then God won’t accept you.”
Just like the well-intended Pharisee Christians in the first church, we too will mistake rules for relationship with God. We must be watchful to avoid creating rules that Jesus never provided. If you want a rule to live by, then live by the two rules Jesus lived by.
Let these two rules be your standard: Will your action or thought show love to God? Will it help your neighbor feel love or experience God’s love? If yes, then do it freely. If not, don’t do it. These are the rules of the game, you don’t need any others.
Scripture Reference: Acts 15:1-5; Romans 12:9-21; Matthew 7:1-5, 22:37-40