One of my all-time favorite camp songs is “They’ll Know We Are Christians by Our Love.” When I think about what faith means to me, I think of those lyrics. Working side by side, walking hand in hand, it is through our actions that God’s love is made known in the world.
This is why I am often uncomfortable when I am reminded that salvation is not something that we work for. Rather, as Ephesians tells us, salvation is a gift from God. Paul tells us that this is a gift, freely given. No matter how hard we work or how undeserving we feel, God loves us.
For me, the realization of this unconditional love is overwhelming; and, as with any gift I have ever received, I want to express to the gift-giver my gratitude. Paul could have stopped at saying that salvation is a gift from God that has been given to us, but he doesn’t stop there. He reminds us that we are created in Christ Jesus for good works. Paul reminds us that faith doesn’t invite us into a life of complacency. When we know how loved we are, it is impossible to not want to respond to that love. God’s salvation is a gift freely given, and here we rediscover that we are asked to share that gift with one another. We are still asked to journey with and partner with God.
When we are able to claim God’s abundant love for ourselves, we are moved. God’s salvific act, God’s love, is something that we respond to. Encountering the wilderness is a movement that we don’t do alone. Today, take a moment to walk a little farther in this spiritual journey and consider how “they’ll know we are Christians by our love.”
God, it is an overwhelming gift to know how much you love us. May we express our gratitude by sharing that love with your world. Amen.
Sometimes we get ourselves into trouble by our words and actions. It’s okay to admit it. It happens to all of us. The Israelites experienced this when their constant grumbling provoked God’s wrath in Numbers 21. Yet even in this story, God provides the means of salvation. The psalmist echoes the refrain that when we put ourselves in bad positions, we may cry out to the Lord for deliverance. We read in Ephesians that all of us were living in disobedience to God, but God has done all the work of reconciliation by grace given through Christ Jesus. John ties all this together, gesturing to the story in Numbers 21 to teach us that Christ is the means of restoration and salvation for all who believe in him.
Read Numbers 21:4-9. When do you complain to God? Does your complaining ever interfere with your sense of God’s presence with you?
Read Psalm 107:1-3, 17-22. What practice helps you to thank God each day for God’s steadfast love?
Read Ephesians 2:1-10. How does your sense of God’s salvation and grace move you to do good works?
Read John 3:14-21. How do you act as a creature of light in the world? What are your “deeds that have been done in God”?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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