Can you touch Grace? Acts 11.19-24
Can you touch grace? I mean, is it something tangible you can feel?
A few days ago, I had just finished speaking - specifically, talking about how grace was seen, heard, felt and dealt in the Christian community. Honestly, the whole notion captures me! How could Barnabas-a man...wait, could I say something totally sexist here?
How could a man, not a woman, walk into an unfamiliar setting,
no doubt filled with unfamiliar-looking and sounding people,
and sense the presence of grace?
I'm smitten with that.
Remember, we are walking behind Barnabas, as he has traveled north from Jerusalem up to Antioch to see what in the world was going on there-persecuted believers had fled to this large metropolis, third largest city in the Roman Empire-and Luke writes that "When he came and had seen the grace of God, he was glad, and encouraged them all that with purpose of heart they should continue with the Lord."1 [Did you miss "God has a plan"? http://www.pastorwoman.com/podcasts/09f26701-84ac-4b6c-ad8a-303d338...]
Peeking over Barnabas' shoulder, what did he see in Antioch?
I mean, the whole notion of someone walking into a gathering...
a man entering into a group of people,
walking into a church and sensing that grace flowed there,
is enchanting, is it not?
Back to the other day ... as we split into discussion groups, a woman across the table from me, raised her chin and looked me square in the eyes and asked, 'Do you suppose you could talk more about 'grace' - what is it really, and where does it come from? How do we get it??'
Grace comes from the heart of God the Father.
Grace captured: "You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us." God extended grace to us ~ his name, Jesus.
Ah, grace. How to define it, how to grasp its beauty and power! I know nothing, except what everyone knows -
if there when grace dances, I should dance.3
Aye, that is grace dancing. God reaching down for imperfect man, costly though it was to him. God's very language is the language of grace, and he is in the business of extending to us his favor, even though we do not deserve it. God isn't concerned with fairness in the way we are; actually, grace is strange because there's absolutely nothing fair about it.
Tis a difficult thing to comprehend, grace is not about fairness or deservedness. And then I remember, "I don't think the way you think. The way you work isn't the way I work," God decrees. "For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work, and the way I think is beyond the way you think."4
Read and consider these questions slowly:
What's your experience with grace? Have you known and accepted God's grace? Has the infinite grace of God changed you? Do you flow in grace - giving and receiving it freely? Hmmm . . . can't really know love without grace
For love 'believes all things', bears all things, gives the benefit of the doubt...'5 That is grace.
The drippings of grace ... longing for a scent of a flower we have not found, the echo of a tune we have not heard, news from a country we have never yet visited. - C. S. Lewis
God doesn't wait for you to come to him . . . he runs to you, with arms outstretched. There it is - can you touch grace? Yes, you can touch grace if you reach out and touch the hand that extended grace to you.
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And in his arms, you remember how to dance again. Now that is amazing grace.
I will ask you again: have you experienced that grace?
1) Acts 11.23
2) Romans 5.6-8
3) W.H. Auden, English poet
4) Isaiah55:8-9, The Message
5) 1 Corinthians 13.4-7, The Living Bible