Filed under: Sermons
If I were to use one word to describe my faith- even to characterize what is central in Lutheran teaching, it would be grace.
While I was at my final retreat for Spiritual Direction Formation, I prayed over my image of grace. The joy of the Gospel is the unbounded love God has for each one of us. This is grace.
Paul gets at this grace towards the end of our reading from Second Corinthians as he talks about seeing from a certain point of view. Grace grows out of God’s point of view.
When Lydia was born, I would sit with her in my arms and just gaze at her. There was nothing she could do. Nothing she could contribute, nothing she could prove. I would just look at her, filled with so much love. In looking down at her, I contemplated God’s gaze on us.
God’s point of view is love.
God sees us through Jesus Christ. God’s point of view goes through the clarifying lens of Jesus. It is by Jesus’ holiness, Jesus’ faith we are judged.
This is the gospel that has the power to change your life. God judges you. God judges you through Jesus. All God sees when God looks at you to judge you is Jesus’ perfect faithfulness. God loves you for Jesus’ sake. God looks at you through love for Jesus; God looks at you through Jesus’ love. This is grace: that the love which belongs to Jesus is freely given to you.
You judge others. You remember their snubs. You remember their favors. You carry grudges, you hold loyalties. You see your own feelings when you look at them.
What would happen if you look at them through Jesus? What if your point of view were closer to that of God’s?
I’m not telling you to subject yourself to abusive and life-destroying relationships. Let God love those people you cannot.
But there are some cases in which we are subjecting ourselves to destruction because we cannot let go of that which needs to be let go of. We feel like we can’t forgive. We don’t think the other deserves our love.
This is why it is so necessary to spend time basking in the loving gaze of God. We need to soak up God’s love, the love God gives to us that is completely undeserved, completely gift, totally extravagant.
Then, we can become like a reservoir that is exceeding capacity. We can turn the gaze of love onto those around us.
If you are holding someone in your life- pinning them down on the judgment seat- it’s you who are experiencing punishment. You were created to live in love. To rejoice in unbound grace.
When you are so full of God’s love, so assured that the most powerful being in the universe has declared you loveable, maybe you won’t need everyone else in your life to be so perfect. Maybe you’ll be ok with knowing you can’t tell a secret to a certain person, but can love them anyway. Maybe you’ll be ok knowing another person won’t ever understand or appreciate all the work you do, but you can love them anyway. Maybe you’ll have the strength to be around that one who makes you face all the things that aren’t perfect about yourself, but God’s love will keep you ok, and you’ll love that person anyway.
Paul declares, “So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new! (2 Cor 5:17). God’s gaze of love transforms. Through Jesus, you have been made loveable, and you are deeply loved. May God continue to work in you, so that you may be brought into the newness and joy of seeing through God’s point of view: looking out into the world with grace.
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