Tuesday, July 24, 2012


We all know the verses where Jesus is asked what the greatest commandments are don't we? It comes from Matthew 22:35-39. Jesus tells the Pharisees who are testing him that the great and first commandement is to love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind. The second, is to love your neighbor as yourself. If we all examine ourself honestly, none can say they have ever loved God this way and for sure haven't loved other people this way. It may be easy to feel like we love our parents or spouse or children like this, but no one could even trick themself into thinking they fulfill this command when it comes to neighbors or strangers. We just don't have that much love in our heart, it is too tainted with sin. I will use this post for a confession. I do not invest into my literal "neighbors", where we live, in this way at all. Considering proximity, our closest neighbor is a sixty year old Puerto Rican man from New York. I regularly see him doing yardwork on his property and give him a encouraging wave or "hey, how are ya?", but rarely do I take the time to walk over and have good conversation. What keeps me from doing this even though I do at times feel led to invest my life into his more?  Part of the reason would be that you would expect that an early 30s, semi-country boy born and raised in Georgia, couldn't find common ground for conversation with a older gentleman of his background. So the first hindrance to a relationship would be that there is the thought that we have nothing in common. That isn't totally true though. The times we have spent chatting I found out that he is a Vietnam veteran that served around the same time as my dad did. That is very cool. He is also an avid baseball fan, particularly the New York Mets. Since I have my background in baseball and have had good friends that have played for the Mets, we had that in common to talk about. Also, he has battled cancer and is a professed Catholic. He loves the same God I do. Since we are both Christians in need of daily grace, we have that in common too. My point in this is that we, in our sin, put up walls to keep from meaningful relationships that may hinder our comfort in life. We expect things out of relationships with our neighbors that may not be the case or even what God would want out of your life for them. As I grow in grace, I see the need to let that spill out to the community and for my neighbors. Yesterday, as I rushed out of the house to run some errands with the family, I saw my neighbor and his wife outside working in the yard again. I felt like God was telling me then that the gospel frees me to take time out of my life, and what I want to do, and spend it on others like my neighbor Julio. I've heard it said that Grace "makes Outsiders Insiders" and redefines community. It puts us all, Christians and non-Christians, in the same boat. We are all sinners in need of God's sovereign, saving grace. We always have that in common. Ephesians 1:3-9 talks about this lavish grace. This grace creates joyful living and freedom because of what Christ has done for us. It eventually will pour out to others in your community. In no way am I saying that I need to do more for and with my neighbors so that I can please God more, or be a "better" Christian. My point is that when the gospel of grace grasps your heart more and more this type of life will be the outcome.  God's grace is the fuel for a life centered on the gospel.  The gospel gives us the freedom to live this life because it, with no strings attached, gives us everything we need. So what have we been given by this Grace? Here is a short list of what we are and have because of God's past grace and future grace through Christ:


When we realize that we have "earned nothing, but received everything", as I've heard Pastor Tullian say, we can freely rest in Christ's righteousness and the freedom that comes from it. This freedom will allow us to live like Romans 15 states:

"Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me."...Welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God...May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope...In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me."

That is my pitch for the day! 

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