[#pictureLent] Mar. 16: Saved by God

J. Todd Bardin
Christ Church UMC, Ft. Lauderdale, FL

First, read Ephesians 2:8-9

We just adopted a little dog from the pound. The kids named her Peanut. She is a small tan and white Chihuahua weighing in at a whopping 5.1 lbs.

On the way home from the adoption, we talked about how we had saved Peanut from the pound. Now she would have a much different life as part of our family. It reminded me of how we are saved by God.

Peanut was totally on the receiving end as we adopted her and brought her into our family. She did nothing to justify herself - to show that she was a better dog than all the others, she was just herself. We accepted her as she was, where she was. Her past did not matter. All that mattered was that she was now part of our family. She was saved from a life of uncertainty and despair to a new life of caring and love.

When we think about salvation, we often try and think back to that moment when we knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jesus died on the cross for our sins. His blood covered us just like the Passover lamb atones for the sins of the Hebrew people. Jesus is our perfect Paschal lamb.

That moment of realization is not what saved us. In reality what has saved us is a total act of grace on God’s part that was in motion before we ever knew it. We can only recognize God’s grace and respond to it. God is always the first mover. Like Peanut, we can only be recipients of the amazing gift of God’s unmerited and freely-given love.

Much talk about salvation is geared to thankfulness in what we have been saved from. We have been saved from bondage to a life of sin and separation from God. We have been set free!

But we are not just saved from something; we are also saved to something. What we are saved to is the ability to have a right relationship with God. It is true that we cannot earn our salvation. No amount of “good works” can restore our relationship with God. Our life in God is only made possible by God. Any good works we may do are really a result of being animated into action by a love so great that we cannot contain it. We must show love to others because God’s love is almost too good believe and it is surely too great to keep it to ourselves.

But how do we receive grace from God? I grew in the construction industry. Many times I have seen concrete trucks roll up and deposit their load into the prepared area. God’s grace flows into our lives like a concrete truck deposits concrete. God has a load of grace with our names on it, standing by, ready to flow. But only after we place our faith in God and incline our hearts toward God can the spiritual law of gravity take over allowing the love and grace of God to flow into our lives.

We need to place ourselves in a position to receive God’s grace. This is done most commonly through the Means of Grace. Wesley taught that these were prayer, searching the Scriptures, Holy Communion every chance you get, fasting and small group fellowship. As we go through this season of Lent, it is my hope that we will place ourselves in a position to receive the load of grace that God has waiting.

Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for your saving grace that fills our lives. Thank you for our faith and place in your holy church. Help us to live these days of lent knowing that you are always the first mover and we are the first responder. You lead us in the great dance of life. May we be responsive to your movement in our lives. Fill us with your grace. Amen.

Discussion Questions

  1. What has God saved you from/to?
  2. How does it make you feel knowing that God has already done everything to secure your salvation?
  3. How is God showing love to others through you?