Brothers and Sisters in Christ!

                              We are surrounded by expectations. If you want to keep your job, you are                                  expected to do your work. If you want friends, you are expected to spend                                  time with them otherwise you’ll grow apart. In a marriage you are expected                                  to love, forgive, and at times compromise. As a citizen you are expected to                                  obey the law. There’s no avoiding the expectations and demands placed upon                                  us; it’s simply a part of our world. And in many cases, you get out what you                                  put in.

Yet, for the believer in Christ, it’s somewhat different. St. Paul writes, “It was for freedom that Christ set us free” (Gal. 5:1). The Bible clearly teaches that salvation is ours as an unmerited gift from God, bought and paid for with Christ’s blood and given by the Holy Spirit. Our sins do not detract from it, nor do our good works add to it. In other words, we are forgiven totally for Jesus’ sake. In grace, God does not punish sinners as they deserve. Instead, He freely gives full pardon and every joy of heaven. Yet, at the same time, we live in a world that awards hard work and punishes wrong-doing. How can we make sense of the two?

As sinners, our temptation is to “be subject again to a yoke of slavery,” as Paul writes (Gal. 5:1). How many times do we desire to correct our sins before God by doing good things for other people, trying hard not to sin, or torturing ourselves emotionally and spiritually? But even this is of no use. We can’t undo what has already been done. That is why we need God. You see, God has taken care of our problem of sin through His Son, Jesus. Through faith in what Christ has done on our behalf we are forgiven and we live each new day under His grace.

And that grace now moves us to reject the desire and temptations of sin and serve Christ by serving one another. St. Paul calls this the “fruit of the Spirit”: “love… peace… patience… kindness… gentleness … self-control” (Gal. 5:22-23). Rather than being our means to remove sins or earn heaven, we do these in response to God’s love. We are able to live this way because God has made us His children. He has done what we were powerless to do, namely earn forgiveness. By the cross and empty tomb of Jesus, we are set free from the bonds of sin; forgiven and empowered to live lives of service.

God’s richest blessings! See you in church!

                 

Pastor M. <t><