I have been reading Philip Yancey’s book, “What’s So Amazing About Grace”. Then I came upon this reading from Ephesians. Here we have Paul, a Pharisee by birth, a persecutor of the early Christian Church, writing about Jesus Christ. Paul who, until his episode on the Damascus road, had been known as Saul, is an excellent example of God’s grace through Christ. Paul was on his way to kill those who followed Christ until he fell down on his way to Damascus. He then was blind for a period, and when he regained his sight, he knew Christ had talked to him. He took on the name of Paul, and became one of the best known disciples. He traveled far and wide talking of his conversion, telling of his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and inviting people to know Jesus and to accept His love into their lives.
In this reading from Ephesians, Paul writes, “God destined us for adoption as God’s children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of God’s will, 6to the praise of God’s glorious grace that God freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. 7In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace 8that He lavished on us.”
Note please, that this is Paul that is writing. Paul was a difficult individual for those who followed Christ to be around, before his change. Paul wanted to kill and maim and destroy the Christian uprising. His idea of God’s way was to follow the Jewish law and nothing else. There was no other hope for humanity.
Yet after Paul experienced Jesus and a change occurred at God’s hand on the road to Damascus, Paul writes and visits many towns and cities, spreading the news that through Christ anyone can find forgiveness for trespasses, and redemption through Christ’s blood. Anyone. For Paul there seems to be no one outside the reach of God’s love.
Isn’t that strange. Humanity would like, most often, for there to be someone outside that reach; some ideas of who would be outside God’s love include Hitler, Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge, Ayatollah Khomeini, those who molest, those who destroy, you can add your list here… But Paul didn’t put any restraints on God’s love and the forgiveness that comes through Christ. Grace is for all, unearned and undeserved.
If we turn to the Bible for proof, all we have to do is look to who Jesus spent time with: Samaritans, a race that was not accepted by most Jews; sick people, those who possibly were being punished for their sins; women, another group of less than important people; and not only women, but women who were adulterous. Even the disciples were not an amazing group of stand-up individuals in the community. There was a tax collector, some poor fishermen, and a zealot. If we need to look for further proof within the Bible, let us look at who God called in the Old Testament; Cain, a man who killed his brother; Abraham, who was willing to kill his only son Isaac; Jacob, who stole the birthright from his brother and who wrestled with God; Joseph who was sold by his brothers into slavery; Moses, a murderer; Aaron, who built the golden calf; and that is only within the two first books of the Bible – Genesis and Exodus.
From the beginning, God called sinners. God shared grace, and God loved all people. Historically, God wanted to love all humanity. Let us try to find ways to share grace and mercy the way God has. Let us realize that this reading from Ephesians, chapter one, especially verses 3 and 4, are meant for our lives. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”
Let’s talk about it.