Thursday, June 18th. 2 Corinthians 6:1-2

As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says,  “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”  See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!  2 Corinthians 6:1-2

 

What would it mean to accept the grace of God in vain?  Maybe this hinges on what we mean by the word “accept.”

 

For a long time a great debate has raged, sometimes loudly and sometimes muted in the background, about the role that we play in accepting the grace of God.  Some teach that God’s grace comes to us via the power of the Holy Spirit working through the means of grace – the Word and the sacraments.  We receive that grace through faith in Jesus.  We are grafted into the faith in our baptism and then live that faith for the rest of our lives.  Grace is the given gift.

 

Others teach that we play a more active role.  The Holy Spirit holds the grace of God in front of us like an offer – we receive that grace only as we actively accept it.  We might pray a prayer acknowledging our sin and need for grace and then ask God to accept us as we are, that we might become a child of God.  Baptism then becomes a sign that we have “sealed the deal.”

 

Frankly, as boisterous as this debate has often been between “theology of the cross, we are but beggars” and “theology of glory, we received Jesus into our hearts and life is oh so much better” – both sides seek the same goal:  God’s creation of a new community of believers who follow Jesus and respond to God’s love through lives which seek to enjoy and grow the kingdom of God for the sake of the world.

 

The point is discipleship, not simply the right definition of key phrases.  The real key question is:  What difference does it make?

 

What difference does God’s grace make in your life?  What difference does it make in your attitudes, your belief system, your spirituality, your behaviors, your care of and for others, your willingness to speak up and work on behalf of others?

 

What difference does God’s grace make in how you use your time, what you do in the world, how you spend your money, how you treat other people?

 

What if God’s grace doesn’t make any discernible difference in your life whatsoever?

 

Remember the audience to whom Paul is writing – he is writing to a Christian community of believers who have gotten off track.  They are not thinking or behaving in ways that would correspond to an active healthy faith.  So his words are a challenge to them – and to us.

 

Regardless of how we came into the faith, the question for today is how is the faith working in, and out of, us?  If we have gotten off track, there is no better time than right now to surrender again to the Lordship of Jesus in our lives, to return to the Source, to, as Luther would say, die and rise again in the waters of our baptism.

 

Now IS the day of salvation.  Now IS the acceptable time.

 

Let us pray:  Gracious Lord, we confess our selfishness, self-centeredness, pride and all that would render your grace vain in our lives.  Forgive us, restore us and lead us, to your glory and the welfare of your people.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

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