First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2:8
That is the theme verse for Vacation Bible School this year which will be June 2-6, with the theme being Gangway to Galilee: Amazing Grace Adventures.
Recently, I have been reading the book One Way Love by Tullian Tchividjian, who happens to be the grandson of Billy Graham. Despite his famous grandfather, and growing up in a devout Christian home, Tullian’s life resembles that of the prodigal son, as opposed to the life his famous family members desired for him, which would be the life that any parent would desire for their son or daughter: that they be faithful, make wise decisions, and be productive members of the community. Tullian details how he stole, drank, did drugs, engaged in premarital sex, and generally lived a life that was definitely not Christian beginning in his teenage years, and lasting throughout much of his 20’s.
When it comes to situations like this, both as a church and as a society, we generally take the position of the older brother in the story of the prodigal son, looking down on the one who squandered his resources and life on such reckless living. We wonder how anyone could possibly love someone who was so reckless and disobedient. And indeed, Tullian admits that many times he was surprised that others in his family and circle of friends, let alone God, still cared about him.
And yet, the story of the prodigal son is the story of all of us. God has blessed us with a great many gifts and blessings in our lives, which we have been greedy with, which we have refused to share, which we have wasted on the reckless things of this world, which we have put toward things that are decidedly not godly at all. Like the prodigal son, when we look back over our failure to perfectly uphold the Law of God in thought, word and deed; when we see how far we have fallen from the throne of God’s grace; we, like the prodigal son, are amazed that anyone one, let alone God, could still love us.
And yet, that is the amazing part in all of this: the prodigal son returns home, prepared to accept the place of a servant, and yet instead is embraced by his father, and restored to the place in the household that he previously held, that of a beloved son.
How can this be? How can you still be rewarded all of the riches and merits and blessings of a child of God, when for so much of your life, you have acted quite the opposite? What price must you pay, what burden must you bare to atone for the sins that you have committed?
The answer for Tullian, the answer for each of us, is that the price, the burden, the suffering, has all been accomplished. Christ Jesus on the cross pays the price with His holy and precious blood, and His innocent suffering and death. Christ Jesus on the cross bears the full and complete punishment for your life of wrong doing. Christ Jesus on the cross is what you and your Father in heaven point to as the atoning sacrifice for all of your sins.
And when your Father in heaven sees Christ on the cross, all of that anger and disappointment that was directed at you is removed. You are once more seen as holy and pure and undefiled. You are perfect; not because of anything you did or did not do, but because of what Christ Jesus did for you. It is truly amazing grace.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt