“Come to the Banquet” – grace invites where law restricts

[Jesus] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for poweris made perfect in weakness.” So, I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me. Therefore I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities for the sake of Christ; for whenever I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

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almost 200 people for supper then various groups

This morning my mind is overflowing with theology. Theology, if you haven’t considered exactly how the word is defined, simply means God thought. If you think about God, in that moment you are a theologian.

There’s a qualifier, of course. I think about food all the time but that doesn’t necessarily make me a great chef. Thinking theologically needs to be approached with and open heart, with Jesus always in the conversation, with care, with discipline, with a constant replenishment of spirit, with study, with research, with a regard and respect for history, using all the best possible and available tools… and so much more.

For me one of the best ways to do God thought is in community. Yesterday’s post –Taking men’s ministry back toward Jesus – referenced my Wednesday evening Bible study; then this morning I met with a man from my Saturday morning group for coffee and conversation.

We talked a lot about the apostle Paul’s statement that “whenever I am weak, then I am strong.”

I asked the guys Wednesday evening what Paul’s strengths were. In other words, if Paul was writing a resume, then what – before he met Jesus – did he bring to the table? Here are a few of the responses – Wednesday and this morning:

  • “His position – and the respect it garnered – as a leading investigator, apprehender, and inquisitor for the religious police.”
  • “His conviction that he was right and the Jesus followers were wrong.”
  • “His knowledge of the law.”
  • “His track record as a practitioner of the law.”
  • “His certainty about religion.”
  • “His skill in pointing out what was wrong with others.”

And there was more, but that’s a fair sampling. Paul’s strength in code practice and in judgment built a wall around himself that kept God out.

So Jesus asks the question, “Where are you weak?” And Paul eventually had to answer, “I know nothing of Grace.”

Paul had to rely on Jesus if he ever wanted to move from regulations about religion and into an authentic relationship with God.

DSC_1145Let me ask you. Are you someone who believes it is critically important that people follow the letter of the religious and social code that you understand as foundational to our identity as Christians? Or are you someone who flings the gates wide open and says, “Come to the banquet!” “Won’t you meet my Jesus?” or, like Andrew in John 1, We have found the Messiah” (which is translated Anointed). And he brought Simon to Jesus” (John 1:41).

Grace is our weakness. So let’s confess that to God, open our hearts wide, and let grace become our strength in Jesus.

In love and because of love – DEREK

 

 

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