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Weekly Update from Pastor Hank – Oct. 7

Dear Church Family and Community,

“If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.     – Matthew 5:41-42

I love grace. Not so much common grace, which can be defined by elegance, refinement, or charm. This grace seems to exalt how we act or carry ourselves. This may be good, but it’s not the best kind of grace. I should have started by saying, I love God’s grace. Divine grace can be defined by our undeserved receiving of God and his blessings. This best grace lifts our eyes up to how God acts towards us, and how God carries us in this life.

Philip Yancey in his acclaimed book, What’s So Amazing About Grace?, tells one of my favorite stories about divine grace. During a conference on comparative religions, a group of experts had gathered to discuss what one belief was unique to Christianity. The group was growing increasingly stumped because they found elements of incarnation or even resurrection in other beliefs. It wasn’t until C.S. Lewis entered the room and quickly quipped, “Oh that’s easy. It is grace.” 

Oh that’s easy. It is grace. The idea of God’s love coming to us free of charge and with no strings attached seems to contradict not only other religions, but also what we instinctually think or feel. God’s love for us is not dependent on our goodness, our faithfulness, or seemingly randomized fate or destiny. No, God loves us because God is love. God graces us because God is gracious. God cares for us because God is full of compassion and his mercies are new every morning.

I always imagined that the hardest part of God’s grace to us would be just receiving it. We sometimes struggle to believe that God really loves us. At times in our lives, we wonder if God is really there. In other moments, we have to remind ourselves that God really has forgiven us for falling short. Receiving divine grace is an everyday invitation to trust and rely on God. I don’t, however, think that it is the hardest part of God’s grace to us. No. The hardest part is that the grace God gifts to us, God expects us to gift it to others.

In Matthew 5:38-42, Jesus moves his followers from the expectations of the world and our flesh to the expectations for those who truly follow him. In a world that teaches an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth, Jesus commands us to grace. In a world that sets us against one another, Jesus calls us to grace. In a material world that values possessions over people, Jesus’ consistent cry is grace, grace, and more grace.

I would like to invite you to spend the next few days meditating on this passage. To help you reflect, I would like to ask you to focus on the following questions:

What is my natural reaction to an offense?

Does this properly reflect Christ?

Is there anyone I have made into an enemy?

Is there anyone I am struggling to love right now?

What does grace mean to me?

How can I be more intentional about giving grace to others?

I pray that God’s grace finds you today. I hope that your spirit is strengthened by the Holy Spirit that lives within you and within all of us who believe. I trust that God’s unconditional love will always remind you that our God is in power, our God is in control, and our God is working for our good.

God bless you all, and take care.

Love in Christ,

Pastor Hank
(Matthew 5:41-42)
P: (717) 561-2170, ext. 104

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