What a week it has been! My first baptism as a minister occurred this last Wednesday night as Larry, an 88-year young man asked me to baptize him. I couldn't have been more pleased. It was a wonderful blessing to be able to raise Larry out of the waters of baptism with the smiles we shared together.
That night I was preaching on grace. This ever-elusive doctrine we preach, but that we rarely understand and experience in our own lives. I can remember thinking of God as a judge who demands perfection from us. God the judge wasn't preached from the pulpit, but somewhere in my beginning understandings of God was this harsh taskmaster of a God who would never be happy with me. So, I tried to be good enough for him, and with every sin I was turned away from God.
But grace asks something far different from us. Rather than turning away from God, grace allows us to turn toward God as we move closer to his heart. At times, I think the pendulum has swung in our churches. Instead of the fire and brimstone law that was preached from our pulpits years ago, we preach grace, grace, and more grace. And that is the gospel isn't it. Not a cheap grace, but a deep grace that heals us from our deeper understanding of our sin.
God, the judge never made me feel accepted. But God, the one described in Scripture as steadfast love, is a God I want to follow. I want to seek him in his silence. I want to chart his wonders in my life. I want to live for him. That's a God I can worship!
Tomorrow, I begin my series in the gospel of Mark with an intro sermon out of Hebrews 1:1-3. I've entitled it "Becoming a Church of Christ." You'll have to wait and hear it (at church or online). Doesn't a title like that just peak your interest. More on that in the coming week.