Week 13: The Gift of Grace
Song for March. Listen => Love You More (on the reach of Jesus’ love for us)
In Jesus, God pierced the veil between Heaven and Earth. To recover lost humanity, God took on human form. He became immanent — Immanuel– the Word made flesh. Son of the Living God, He ministered to the marginalized, healed the hurting and forgave the repentant. But He didn’t just come to save those He happened to encounter during His three years of active ministry. On the cross, our Savior atoned for the sins of all humanity, across all time: “God forgive them. They know not what they do.” This gift of grace is of supreme significance to all humanity.
Yes, Jesus descended to the margins to heal the most broken and despairing. And He continues to do so every day. Jesus is the Universal Christ; He descends right into our brokenness and weakness– if we let Him– to save us from ourselves. The Good Shepherd walks into the valleys of our suffering and dark caves of our sin to seek out our original goodness, just as a shepherd would seek out a lost sheep. He comes in love, then shines light on the truth we must know. At the first flicker of our remorse, He runs to us in mercy and washes our sin away in the waters of His grace.
Grace. It’s God’s most precious gift to the human heart. No sin can exceed the reach of God’s grace. Grace is our passageway to renewal– to goodness– to service.
What part do we play on this healing journey? First, it’s on us to open ourselves to Jesus’ love. Swept up in pride, we might see no need for God. It may take a shock to the system to break us out of such a pride trap. Or we may be swept up in despair. We might believe we are not worthy of God. It may require a slight lift of our heads– a glimpse up from the bottom of the well into which we’ve fallen, so that we can see the prick of light and the rope Jesus has thrown to us. Whether it be from pride or despair, God waits upon our first free-will movement towards Him.
But with our first turn towards Him, Jesus rushes in. He takes us by the hand and walks right into our souls with us, there to begin a circle dance of love, truth and grace. Step by step He calls us into ever deeper communion. We repent; He forgives the big boulders of our past sins. We may feel unforgivable; He works in our hearts to help us forgive ourselves. Once we finally begin to forgive ourselves, He calls us to make amends.
And that’s just the beginning. He calls us deeper. What harmful patterns lie beneath our sins? Do we carry within our souls certain prejudices, compulsions and obsessions? “Name these,” He says, “and repent.” As we do, He then helps us to seek out and discover the hurts that lie at the root. He challenges us to look honestly at our human urges– to survive and procreate; for physiological comfort; safety and security; love and belonging; status and esteem. Have we properly integrated these urges of the self with the legitimate needs of others? Have we brought our souls into balance and reciprocity, tending to our own needs and the needs of others in healthy ways? Are we ready to widen our circle of care?
And so the dance goes on. Life experiences happen; our imperfections reveal themselves. Through our daily prayers we come back into communion with Jesus. Together with Him, one by one, we tease free the tangles in our souls.
For leaders, the danger of pride always lurks. In my first letter to you, rising leader, I said that all things are connected, with love. God is in all things– including in us. When we recognize that, when we plug into the life force that is Jesus Christ, He leads us on a never-ending journey of healing, rebalancing, and renewal. The love, truth and grace of Jesus Christ are available to us each time we put our palms together in prayer. In this daily discipline of piety, we find the way, the truth and the life that sets us free. It is He who leads us to the truth, so we remain humble. Humility is a precious asset for a rising leader. He points us towards the descending path, showing us the need, inviting us to respond– with love, truth and grace.
“You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.” — 2 Corinthians 8:9
Today’s letter to you is the last of this first quarter of 2022. For the past thirteen weeks, we have pondered three questions: “Who is God?”, “Why is capable, ethical, selfless leadership so important at this moment?”, and “What does God have to do with leadership?”. We have explored the dynamic trinitarian love-circle of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
Now, over the next thirteen weeks, we will explore: “Who am I?” and “What soul work do I need to do to become a more whole, capable, ethical, selfless person, ready to commit my life to a noble cause?” This thirteen-week journey will be enriched by the life stories of thirteen imperfect people who became capable, ethical leaders.
See you next week!
P.S.: In this week’s poem we find a third leader transformed by his encounter with Jesus. How does a hate-filled hunter of Christians become a church-building saint? Here’s how.
SINNER SAUL TO SAINT PAUL
With hate harbored for people of the Way,
Saul hunted for converts to catch mid-flight
To Damascus road he went to snatch strays,
but on that road ’twas he struck blind by light
Why persecute? a Heaven-sent voice cracked
Who are you? blinded Saul, in fear, replied
I am Jesus Christ, whose church you’ve attacked
At Your feet I fall! repentant Saul cried
Paul is now your name. Go take up My cross!
With that scales cracked, clattered down from his eyes
He rushed to the margins to recover the lost
To his death he served; young church to make rise
Through grace, Christ made servant lead of St. Paul
Perhaps by grace we’ll be servant leads all?
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