By Jonathan Gaylord
Providence & West Marion UMCs
Through some unspoken agreement, my wife and I have spent the past few years collecting glass jars. We have even developed specific criteria for these jars, it is only the prettier jars, the jars of unusual size, and the jars with tight lids that make the cut. These jars don’t get blithely tossed in the recycling bins in our laundry room, no these jars are rescued for a life of… living in the unreachable cabinet above the refrigerator.
Most of the saving we do in life is strange. We save money, clothes, screws, bolts, bobbins, scraps, cards, and we try to save time. We save things to have just in case. We save things because it seems like a waste to throw them away. We save things in the hope that someday they will be useful. The things we save sit in cabinets and at the back of closets gathering dust, until one fateful day, destiny calls an old jelly jar into service.
Paul offers a different vision of God’s salvation. We are “dead to our trespasses” (NRSV v.5) or dead “because of the things we have done” (CEB). We are not the pretty jelly jars, we are moldy leftovers at the back of the fridge. We are sinners, marred by our own sin and choices.
“However, God is rich in mercy.” God isn’t saving us for some time later or just in case. God is saving us because God loves us. God doesn’t save us because we are pretty, smart, holy or good. God saves us because God loves us. Grace is called Grace precisely because we do not deserve it and cannot earn it.
Lent is a time of self-reflection, denial, and fasting. We do not engage in Lenten disciplines because they made us worthy of God’s love. We engage in them so that room might be made in our hearts and souls for God’s grace to work. We cannot earn salvation, and God offers it to us anyway. Our call as Christians is to let God’s grace into our souls.
God offers love and mercy to us as we are. We aren’t saved for what we could be, what we will become, or what we are now. We are saved because of who God is. We are saved because God’s love is enough.
I don’t know why we save some of things we do, but God is not confused about why we are being saved. We are being saved because God loves us. You are saved because God loves you.
Prayer: Lord, out of your love for us, You sent your Son to save us. Deliver us from thinking we need to be more, do more or have more in order to deserve your love. Show us how to truly rely upon your offering for us. Amen
Questions for Discussion/Reflection:
1) What do you do to earn God’s love?
2) What do you need to stop doing in order to let God’s grace be enough?
3) How can you respond to God’s love for you?