I was blessed yesterday to speak at Alife Church here in Bellingham. It was good to be home and a blessing to speak to my church family. It is great to be a part of a life-giving community of grace!
Grace empowers each of us to live for the wellbeing of others. As dads and moms, we live for the wellbeing of our children. As a husbands and wives, I live for the wellbeing of our spouses. As citizens of God’s community, I live for the wellbeing of the community. As leaders, we live for the wellbeing of those we lead. As human beings, we live for the wellbeing of human kind. Grace is not about what we get from God. God’s grace empowers each of us to be someone who can give what God has given us for the sake of others. Mercy gets, but grace gives. If we say, ‘You cannot judge me because we are in a time of grace.’ ‘You cannot make a judgment of me, you have to tolerate me as I am. You must see me as I am and you cannot judge me.’ These statements are not the confessions of people of grace. These are the confessions of people who need mercy. People of grace don’t need others to not make a judgment of them for them to be givers of life. You can judge me. It will not change who I am for you. As a matter of fact, when you judge me it will only challenge me to be a person of grace.
2 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.
Grace is the power of God’s Spirit in our lives that transforms us, anoints us, and empowers us to live for the wellbeing of others. We are saved by grace, but salvation is not just going to heaven when we die. It is bringing the influence of heaven into our world. God’s grace is the power of His presence in our lives that overcomes all wickedness. Grace empowers us to overcome injustice with a justice system of love.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine; For your light has come! And the glory of the Lord is risen upon you.
Something inside of us is coming out of us. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us. This is an amazing verse concerning God’s heart for His children. As little children, we know that our sins are forgiven and we have Father who loves us. This is a testimony of God’s mercy and it ends our past and justifies us to live. Our sins are forgiven and we have a Father who loves us, but the goal is to become like Our Father when we grow up. Our aim is to mature to be fathers and mothers in the faith. Fathers have known Him from the beginning. Being a father or a mother is becoming like the One we know and living for the same purpose found within His heart. We live for the family. The goal of each member in the community of God is to become like Him. We live for the Father’s will. The Father’s will is to raise sons and daughters who know they are the children of God. The process of becoming fathers and mothers involves being young men or young woman who embrace the life transforming work of God’s grace in their lives. Young men and women in the community of God grow in maturity to overcome the wicked one. They are strong in the Lord and strong in His word. They are not merely strong in Scripture memory, but strong in being the substance of His word. They have overcome the wicked one. Isaiah 60:1 describes this. Who He is, empowers us to be transformed by grace that we might arise and shine in a world of darkness!
Isaiah 60:2 For behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and deep darkness the people; but the Lord will arise over you, and His glory will be seen upon you.
God’s glory does not arise upon us so we can be empowered to condemn the world. We are not becoming people of grace so we can measure people in the world by our grace. True people of grace show mercy to those in the world, but they do not expect them to act as though they have the power of God’s grace working in their lives. The glory of God will rise upon us, but we must be willing to embrace what He is doing for the process of grace to be fully experienced in our lives.
I believe we often misunderstand grace when we fail to realize that there are two realities in the earth. One reality is that of the nations of the world. The second is that of being a citizen of heaven sent as an ambassador to the world. The nations of the world are in darkness and they are bound to an administration of a knowledge of good and evil. Citizens of heaven are children of light and they live in the freedom of an administration of the tree of life. It is not our job to condemn the world for being in darkness. We are not to get angry when people in the world act like people of darkness. We cannot measure world citizens or world leaders by the kingdom of God. We cannot measure people in the world to see if they are like Jesus. They are part of the kingdoms of the world. Sometimes people in the world do act like Jesus in some way and not in another way, but they aren’t Jesus. What do we tell our children about people in the world and about worldly leaders in our countries? We tell them they are not Jesus, but they are people who are trying to figure things out. We tell them we are God’s family and it is not our job to measure people in the world by what they are or are not. It is our job to arise and shine! It is our job to demonstrate what Jesus looks like to a world in darkness! God so loved the world that He did not condemn the world, but sent His Son to give life to all men. The world already does a good job of condemning itself. Jesus came to free all humanity from condemnation and the power of condemnation. In the world there is darkness, and the people in the world are in the great darkness, but God has delivered us from the power of darkness and He has conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.
Children of God demonstrate what it looks like to live for the wellbeing of others. We cannot expect people in the world to live for our wellbeing. We cannot expect the leaders of the world to act as Christ. Give me a leader that simply agrees with something of the direction of God in my life, but the truth is our countries needs each of us more than we need our countries. The world needs us more than we need the world. We are the light of the world. The glory of the Lord has risen upon us. The people in the world are in deep darkness, but we are the light! Walk as children of light!
Ted J. Hanson