As I began teaching through the Gospel of Mark in our Wednesday evening Bible study this week at church, I was once again struck with how much God truly loves us. Mark’s Gospel will complete our journey of studying the New Testament verse by verse and yet again the grace of God captures my heart. It begins with the Son of God coming to the Jordan River to submit Himself to baptism by the forerunner John the Baptist and then submit Himself to 40 days of temptation in the wilderness by Satan. As we weaved our way through the first chapter, I began to think that we should be overwhelmed by the grace of God.
As I ponder the other major religions of the world, they all are about man pursing their god, but the fact that Jehovah God had a plan before the foundations of the earth to pursue me is a bit overwhelming to say the least. Think about it. God spoke the very creation into existence. He spoke everything we see into existence, yet in the midst of eternity past He had a plan to love mankind beyond our comprehension. He not only had a plan to love mankind, but He gave up something that not one of us would give up for another person, His only Son. Not only is this over-whelming, but then to think of what Jesus Christ subjected Himself to during His earthly ministry to make a way for our broken fellowship with God due to our sin is absolutely over the top on the amazing meter.
The current state of the culture that we live in today seems to be thumbing its nose at this amazing grace. The culture takes every opportunity to displace any mention of Jesus from the public arena, while we are told to be tolerant and understanding of other religions. Christians seem to face ridicule and now as we have found out in the Oregon potential death because of our faith in God. Wait a minute, didn’t Christ actually say to expect these things? Even more, Christ experienced all of this, even the cruelty of execution on a Roman cross simply because of His unmerited love for mankind. I write this to encourage you in a few areas. First, understand that no matter what you’ve done or what your current state of life is at this moment, you are loved by God. He will forgive you and accept as His own this very day if you will humble yourself, repent (be willing to turn your life around and forsake sin) and believe that Jesus died and rose again from the dead. You don’t work for this. Remember it’s grace alone not grace plus you performing good works to gain favor from God. Secondly, if you are a believer and you have stumbled (by the way everyone one of us stumble – yes, even preachers), understand that the Bible says in I John 1:9 that we “…if we will confess (agree with God) our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive us”. The way back begins with grace. Thirdly and finally, be willing to extend grace to others. Be understanding because we are all fallen creatures. We all have areas of our life with which we struggle. As the old cliché’ goes, “But for the grace of God, there go I”. Grace, it truly is amazing!