-GAINS & GLEANINGS-
BY J. HOGAN
Often believers seem to be speaking a strangely different language than other folks, a problem that sometimes makes interaction difficult. “Christianese” is often baffling to people not raised in the church or steeped in the culture.
Words like “repent,” meaning to turn from sin and to God, or “discipleship,” meaning the investment of a believer into the journey of a newer believer, are sometimes tossed about with no explanation, leaving the uninitiated confused.
Churches are aware of this, but still lose sight of it sometimes. Today I want to look at two of God’s most precious concepts, and how they benefit us: mercy and grace.
Most have heard of these, but not all grasp them.
The ability for a human being to have a relationship with God—in itself a “grace”—is founded on God’s love for us.
Love is the driver.
Mercy and grace are the tools, the blessed mechanisms which enable us to experience Him relationally.
Every morning, the Bible assures us, God’s mercies are new.
That’s good. I need them.
God is holy and glorious. I am petty and inglorious. God is perfect. I blow it every day.
We all do.
God’s mercy is how we overcome that. We may (do, really) deserve the penalty, but mercy is about not getting what one deserves.
If I’m pulled over going 45 mph in a 25 zone and the magistrate hears my admission yet decides to forgo the fine, I’ve been shown mercy. My action deserved the fine. The judge chose not to impose it.
Grace, on the other hand, is getting what you don’t deserve.
If the magistrate not only decided to forego the fine, but then wrote a check for the amount I should’ve paid and handed it to me as a gift, that would be a grace.
God’s mercy plays out in many ways and His graces –large and small– abound, but the essential expression is summed up in this verse from the book of Romans.
“The wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life…”
We can sometimes stroll through life believing that we’re owed much, but it’s just not true. Tomorrow is not promised, life is not fair, politicians may talk about ‘entitlements’ but history is replete with proof that this world holds no obligation for man.God, however, cares for us and blesses us.
The Creator loves us, grants us mercy to enable restoration and relationship, and dispenses grace to bless us.
This should fill us with awe. If we allow our thoughts to dwell on the generosity and compelling love of God, we’ll find it easier to develop an attitude of gratitude.
If we embrace the concepts of mercy and grace and implement them in our lives—forgiving and blessing people not because they deserve it, but because God models it—we’ll better express God’s love to others.
Rev. James Hogan is a native of Stowe Township and serves as pastor of Faithbridge Community Church in McKees Rocks.