Monday, August 17, 2015

FAIRNESS vs. GRACE ---- We win!

Matthew 20:1-16  is titled, in my Bible, "The Parable of the Workers in the Vineyard."   I think it should be called something like, "The Parable of the Gracious Landowner."   As Caz pointed out Sunday, to the workers the issue was fairness:  when the guys who had only worked part of the day got paid the same as the ones that started in the morning, the ones who had worked all day cried "foul"--  "They began to grumble against the landowner."   But the landowner (who represents the Kingdom of heaven-- the "world as it should be") was demonstrating GRACE.

GRACE is a concept that's pretty foreign to this world's system.  Some people are even offended by it-- they think it means someone is "getting away with something"-- or getting something they don't deserve.  And actually, that is the whole point of grace:   we all are "eligible"  to receive something we don't deserve.   The Father-God is willing to let us "get away with" not paying for our sins... His Son took care of that for us. 

 Interestingly, children are especially concerned about fairness.  That's why grade-school kids love board games:  there are rules, and if you follow the rules, you might win.  But not  following the rules is "not fair!"  It seems like a lot of adults are stuck at this child-level of maturity-- more concerned about their perceived idea of "fairness" than about grace.  I have to admit, grace is messy-- it gets doled out to everyone, whether we think that person deserves it or not.  Because I tend to be naturally a little rigid and judgmental in my thinking, I've often struggled with the "unfairness" of what someone else seemed to be getting away with.   That's not fair....

But what I've discovered for myself is that there is a deeper issue behind this need for "fairness."  And that is...  fear.  I think people (like me) who have stubbornly held onto their need for fairness are fear-based.  And a fear-based system is founded on the belief that there is only so much to go around:  Only so many fudge brownies.   Only so much love.   Only so much freedom.  And if you get 55%, then there's only 45% left for me...  and that's not fair!  I need all I can get!  (of whatever it is.)  In this parable, Jesus was trying to show that in God's world, in the Kingdom of Heaven, there is plenty to go around.   No one gets left out.   No one gets shorted.   And.... no one gets what they "deserve"--    we all get a lot more!   There is more love, and grace, and freedom waiting for us all than we can probably imagine.  So... let go of your need for "fairness"... and step into the Kingdom world of extravagant GRACE.

~Papa Rick  (aka Beth's Dad)


Friday, August 14, 2015

Follow, Believe and Obey

I enjoyed getting to hear from Jimmy Cazin (I hope that is the correct spelling) last week. He talked about how Jesus invited others to follow Him. With his disciples, he did not tell them to get their act together first.  Our church needs to be a place for people who are ready to follow Jesus. I think we would all be uncomfortable if someone walked into the service reeking of alcohol or seeming somehow unchurchy. A generation ago people went to church because it was what you did, whether you really believed or not. That doesn’t happen now.  So anyone who walks in is willing to be there, and we need to be ready to love that person without reservation. Because that’s how Jesus loves us.
            Pastor Cazin said that the next step after following is believing, and that the last step is obeying. Pastor Cazin pointed out that believing is easy, because it doesn’t require any change. Obeying is what turns the world upside down. The early Christians radically changed their world. They overthrew the government and changed society. They were not afraid of death. What could we do if we were not afraid? What could we do if we didn’t stay in the warm fuzziness of belief and Sunday morning worship?   
            Let’s Go!



Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Guest blog: Kristin Messegee

I was not raised in the church. My conversion was later in life and the hows and whys of that still don't fully make sense to me. Even though I've experienced true grace and forgiveness, I'm still a doubter, questioner and stubborn follower. One of my biggest issues as a new convert was the idea that "apart from God we can do nothing", or something like that. You hear things like that in Christian circles. It drove me NUTS. We are created in His image, right? People, even non-Christians, GASP, do great things for other people every day, so what was this NONSENSE?! I found it very offensive. Over time, however, I came to understand statements like that is in two ways:

1) Compared to what God can do, even our best is pretty insignificant. Compared to what He's capable of, we are capable of nothing. Even if we give every single day our very best, it's not much compared to creating the heavens and earth and little things like that. 

2) When we PARTNER with God or bring Him into our lives, that is where the real magic can happen. Things we cannot achieve or bring about alone, we can when He is involved. Not that we get to control that or know what it's going to look like.  

Caz's sermon last Sunday reminded me of that gap between what I can do and what He can do. It reminded me of the power of grace and forgiveness and whereas I struggle with those things, it's given freely to matter what I do. The way I love is human. The way he loves is divine. If I'm honest, I can't truly take that in, but because I choose to walk with Him I've seen it and felt it in my own life. I'm grateful for glimpses and reminders that His love is perfect and beyond my comprehension. As I grow, I'm learning to rest in least occasionally.