Learn the unforced rhythms of grace…

I am so thankful for all the accounts in scripture of Jesus confronting the arrogant, the bully, and the know-it-alls. I am thankful He models, perfectly, the response we should choose. It’s the extravagant outpouring of Truth resting firmly on a foundation of love and grace.  Without this firm foundation His words and actions would not have had the impact that they did.

Anytime I come across stone throwing (or anytime I’m tempted to pick up my own stone and hurl it) I tend to find my way back (as quickly as I can) to one of these accounts in Scripture of Jesus responding in love…showing us how it’s possible to disagree with someone and, yet, show them the same respect, dignity, grace, and love Jesus was modeling for us in Scripture and continues to model for us today through His Word and His Spirit. In these crazy times, where the stones seem to be flying non-stop, I desperately need this reminder daily.

As these thoughts were swirling around in my brain this morning, the lyrics to an old song my mom and I used to sing together at Christmastime came to mind. The song is called “Sweet Little Jesus Boy”.  It was an African American spiritual written in the 1930s and recorded, over the years, by many different artists.  My mom and I knew the Anne Murray version. Here’s the lyrics that came to mind this morning.

“You have told us how
We are trying
Master you have shown us how
Even when you were dying
Just seems like we can’t do right
Look how we treated you
But please Sir forgive us Lord
We didn’t know it was you”

Even when I was a little girl, I remember those lyrics having a profound impact on me. There was an ache in my soul that would rise to the surface as I sung those words. They are honest and raw and remind us just how challenging it is to love others well and correctly.

Today, when I need reminding of how to love well, here are three go to Scripture accounts I run back to…

  1. John 8 1:11 The lady caught in adultery:

Jesus reminds her accusers that none of their lives are blemish free. They may sin differently than the lady caught in the act…but each of them is still just as sinful. I love Scott Sauls reflections on this account “I do not condemn you. Now leave your life of sin. The order is everything. Reverse the order of these two sentences and we lose Christianity.”

2.  Mark 2:13-17 Jesus spending his free time with the tax collectors and sinners:

Loving others well means that we break the holy huddle and spend time with people who may act, speak, and look differently than us. Jesus invested in the lives of people who were labeled as outcasts. He didn’t keep his distance; he intentionally moved closer. He formed relationships with folks who couldn’t have been any more different than him.

3.  Luke 24:42 The thief on the cross:

“Jesus, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.” Jesus responds to this man’s request without delay. He doesn’t need time to think about it. He doesn’t tell the man it would be unfair to let him in now since all his life was spent sinning and walking in the wrong direction. No.  He responds, “Today, you will be with me in paradise.”

What a beautiful message to close out His chapter of modeling love to us here on earth.  It’s a reminder that His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness is infinitely bigger than us:  a receptive and humble heart is the only thing He asks of us.

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”  Matthew 11: 28-30 Message




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