First Lutheran Church Plainville, Kansas
Peace Lutheran Church Natoma, Kansas
This is part 2 in a 4 part series on the Solas of the Reformation. Part 1 is in the January newsletter; parts 3 and 4 will be in the July and October editions.
I was always picked last to play basketball, probably because my dribbling was below average, my shooting was off the mark, and my free throws rarely went in. On the other hand, I was picked much sooner to play baseball, probably because of several homeruns I hit, and the many batters I struck out.
My track record in sports determined where I got picked to play on teams: last in basketball, first in baseball.
That is how life works: if you are good, you will be called upon early and often to come forward and sing, or play sports, or do an important job. If you are not so good, you will notice how infrequently your phone rings when people are looking for singers, or workers, or athletes.
Grace does not show up in our everyday world; in fact, grace is a very foreign concept. Hard work, talent, family connections, the ability to pay back, that is where choices are made.
That is the worldview in Luther’s day as well. If you were good, if you gave big gifts, if you could do something special, than God would want you to be with Him in heaven; but if not, then you were out of luck.
But that is not how the Scriptures speak: why does God call Abraham? He was old, had no children, and was hardly a faithful believer. Or why does God choose Israel? They are the smallest and weakest of the nations. Or why does Jesus call the disciples? None were highly educated, nor were they influential in any way. Or why does God call you? What have you done that is especially good? What great talent or benefit do you bring to the table? Nothing; you bring nothing, just as Abraham brought nothing, and Israel brought nothing, and the disciples brought nothing.
But that is grace. God looks past your weaknesses and your failings and He calls you anyway. God sees you sitting in gloom and darkness, sees that you have no value of your own, and yet God calls you to be His beloved child.
In VBS we learn that grace stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense; what is grace? It is receiving the full and rich blessings that God has for you, not because you are worthy by your words or actions, but because Christ was worthy by His words and actions. Grace is receiving everything, even though you yourself did nothing and deserve the opposite.
You are now singing the National Anthem at the Super Bowl without ever taking a music lesson; you are the starting pitcher for the Royals without ever picking up a baseball, you are on a space ship to the moon without ever being told how to get there.
You are standing in the glory and splendor of your Father in heaven without ever having done a thing worthy to get there, but solely because Jesus did everything for you.
Grace is perhaps best seen in the thief on the cross; who repents and confesses Jesus, and receives the promise of Paradise. He had no opportunity to go and do some great works or live a Godly life, he was on a cross about to die; and yet what does he receive? Grace. He receives God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
That is what you now receive as well: God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. You receive grace.
God Bless! Pastor Schmidt