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Friday, September 27, 2013

We Are Family – Healed By Grace

             I’m old enough to remember Popeye and as a kid, he was one of my favorite cartoons.  For the uninitiated, Popeye was a squinty-eyed, crusty, corncob pipe-smoking sailor-man with massive forearms who would eat a can of spinach to give him superhuman strength.  Writing this description down makes me realize it is kind of weird!  But I digress…
            Popeye always had to save his girl, Olive Oil, from some sort of distress that usually involved the brute Brutus.  The plot line for Popeye cartoons was quite simple:  damsel gets in distress, bully threatens to beat everyone up, hero beats up bully and saves damsel, repeat.
            But one of Popeye’s favorite sayings was, “I yam what I yam!” 
Popeye’s saying wasn’t original.  It is actually a quotation of the Apostle Paul from his letter to the Corinthian church.  In his letter Paul says,  But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain.  Paul makes this statement as an acknowledgement that, although he persecuted the church and was the last of the Apostles that Jesus appeared to, God’s grace was still at work in his life.  When Popeye says it, there is the sense he is saying “What you see is what you get – like it or not.”  What Paul meant was “What you see is what you get – because God’s grace is enough and his grace is at work transforming my life.
            I think we should make signs for our families – spiritual and earthly – that say “GRACE AT WORK” sort of like the “Men At Work” signs in construction zones.  It would be a helpful reminder we aren’t perfect and God is still at work.  It isn’t a sign of resignation, it is a sign of hope.  We are under construction by God and he is transforming us by his grace.
            When you read how Paul talks about grace, it is always partnered with effort.  If you’ve been around the church a bit, you may see that as a bit scandalous but I think Dallas Willard nails it on the head when he says, “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning. Earning is an attitude. Effort is an action. Grace, you know, does not just have to do with forgiveness of sins alone.”  We don’t earn God’s grace – God can never be in our debt – and therefore the grace that saves us is not a result of what we do (see Ephesians 2:8-10).  But living in God’s grace takes a lot of effort.  Only through grace does healing take place.  Grace opens the door to forgiveness.  Forgiveness ushers in grace.  Grace heals.
                  You are who you are.  But are you letting God’s grace do it’s work?  So, a few pertinent questions:  Where do you need the grace of God in your family?  What do you need to do to allow God’s grace to flow into you and through you?  Are you willing to do that?
                  God’s grace in your life will not be in vain if you cooperate with his grace.  That’s Good News!

Peace and grace,


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