Summary: A sermon about grace.
“You Are God’s Masterpiece”
A colleague told me about a man named Jerry who was found by his girlfriend sprawled out on the bathroom floor, pills littering the tile around him.
Jerry had lost his entire family of four, one by one, in a matter of years.
When the last member of his family, his twin brother, died of leukemia, Jerry sank into despair.
After a week and a half of intensive care, Jerry had survived his near-fatal suicide attempt, but he didn’t seem any better.
Reluctantly, Jerry went with his girlfriend to speak with the pastor of her church, my colleague.
I am told that Jerry walked into the office that afternoon looking like the living dead.
My colleague had assumed it was despair over his loss that drove him to want to end his life, but he was wrong.
“I just can’t get rid of the guilt I feel,” Jerry confided.
“I miss my family terribly, but what haunts me is what I did to my brother. He resented me for years after I got involved with a girl he really loved. He felt betrayed and told me: ‘You are no longer my brother.’
For years we didn’t talk because he refused to see me.
I wanted to try to resolve it, but before I could, he passed away.
I feel so horrible for what I did to my brother; I just don’t want to live.”
My friend couldn’t believe it.
What Jerry needed most was not an explanation of why tragedy happens, what he needed was simply to understand God’s grace!!!
And don’t we all?
What our world needs more than anything else is grace.
And not just more talk about grace, but grace that seeks out lost people like God does.
“Grace with skin on it” shall we say—because people are born to run from God without it.
We all know deep down inside that something’s wrong with this world.
It’s not hard for people to comprehend the words of the Apostle Paul in Romans Chapter 7 when he says, “I really want to do what is right, but I don’t do it. Instead, I do the very thing I hate.”
Yet, instead of turning to God for help, people naturally run from God, the only One Who can heal us, change us, and give us life.
It’s so sad how automatically so many people feel unacceptable to God!
This world is filled with unhappy people who are living lives with the heavy yoke of guilt around their necks.
So many folks do not know that they are loved unconditionally.
And until we realize this; we can never really live!!!
The uniqueness of Christianity boils down to this one word: Grace!!!
Grace says that God accepts you and loves you—“just as you are”!!!
Can you even begin to imagine what the world would be like if people really believed this?
Can you imagine what the Church would be like if we really and consistently believed this and lived it out?...
…if we put skin on it?
If we were to go out on the street and ask people I wonder how many folks would associate Christianity or churches with anything closely resembling grace?
According to some new books by Christian research groups, what many folks feel is law—zero tolerance, judgment, condemnation.
Many people are afraid of coming to church—lest they be judged or deemed unacceptable.
I don’t know how many times I have been giving out food from our food pantry, and then when I invite the person or persons to come worship with us they say things like, “I don’t have any good clothes…” or “Do you allow people of a different color to come to your church?”
My goodness, I’d ride my skateboard off the roof if it would get them to come!!!
It’s that important!!!
Being a part of God’s Body is that life changing!!!
How can we better get the message out that we aren’t looking for “perfect people”…
…as if there were any…
…we want people to come just as they are…
…because that is how God accepts them and that is how God accepts us!!!
Paul writes in our Scripture passage for this morning, “because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.”
God loved us long before we loved God.
God sought us out while we were doing who knows what?
And God continues to seek us out every minute of every day!!!
That’s what I call LOVE!!!!
Grace is the greatest News in the Bible!!!
But it is so “other-worldly” that it is often so hard for us to “get it.”
I mean, people do not naturally understand what Paul says in Romans Chapter 8, that even though we fail to live up to God’s standards, or even our own: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”