It’s the Fourth of July!
We, as Americans, celebrate our independence… our freedom… and the core values of: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. We all know America could do better at setting these examples, but today is not a day to be critical… but to be proud and inspired.
Think of all the different ways we, as Americans, are ‘built up’ by the message of American Independence. It builds us up to be hard-working and on the lookout for opportunity. It builds us up to be spokespeople and examples of freedom for the world. It builds us up to be generous, open, courageous and protective when ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’ anywhere in the world is threatened.
The message of God’s grace (that God invites us into a new life, free of past mistakes and full of future growth and peace) has a similar effect on those who hear it… it inspires us to grow in faith and love, to give of ourselves to others, to be an example of ‘loving God and loving neighbor’, and to practice the Golden Rule (doing for others as you would have others do for you). Sure, like America representing Freedom, Christians representing the ‘Grace of God’ could do a lot better… but today is not a day to be critical about that either.
Paul’s parting words to the new churches he started in Ephesus and Miletus… words he fully expected to be his last to them in person… say it well:
And now I commend you to God and to the message of God’s grace, a message that is able to build you up
In essence, he says, “I’m leaving and won’t see you again, but you now KNOW what to do and how to do it… you now KNOW who you are and what you stand for”.
Paul knew that God’s message of grace would see them through… just like we expect ‘freedom’ and democracy’ to see our nation through.
Celebrate today! And be built up in both freedom and grace!