“With Jesus, preemptive declarations of grace and love and no-condemnation establish the environment for conversations about truth, morality, and ethics. It can be no other way.”
Author Scott Saul Befriend: Create Belonging in an Age of Judgment, Isolation, and Fear
I love a quiet afternoon with Ann VosKamp and her front porch guests.
Today’s post by Pastor Saul stopped me in my tracks for a bit of soul-searching of my own.
Ann VosKamp is wise. How do I know? She has learned to sit at the feet of those who know the transforming love and grace of God so very well that they are compelled to proclaim the good and glory of God.
Shoutin’ glory as it relates to their very own honest view of the not so pretty, imperfect, real and messy business of life. You know the life that faces the world head-on in pursuit of the real meaning to it all?
The truth of it is that some of us find the real Jesus for life sooner rather than later and that is a blessing. For others, it takes years of pain, heartache and struggle until they know the surrender of the arms of an all loving God.
The following excerpt toward the end of the powerfully convicting post by Pastor Scott Saul caused me to consider how many times I may have inadvertently offered my judgement in word and action far more quickly than love and grace.
Grace, a ready favor. Love so undeserved. The free gift of eternal life. I know more now why my grandmother spent her days living, breathing and singing sweet hymns of the promise of heaven.
“After eighteen years of pastoral ministry, I have never met a person who fell in love with Jesus because a Christian scolded them about their morality or their ethics. Have you?”
In the end, the following words of Anne Lamott hang hauntingly over me and I have mulled them over and over for hours.
“It’s okay to realize that you’re crazy and very damaged. All the best people are.
Grace and love must come before ethics.
No-condemnation must come before the morality discussion.
Because it is God’s kindness that leads to repentance, not our repentance that leads God to be kind.
Love – the broad embrace of the narrow path – will trigger some of the most life-giving experiences you’ll ever be part of.
I have known my own life-giving experiences and have been so grateful for love in action, grace expressed among the people of God who held me, never uttered a word and cried WITH me.
There is so much pain in this world. Pain that makes your heart feel as if it could explode at any moment and is only diffused when the eyes of compassion that look right back at you. Truth. Inthat very moment of need, the eyes of love and grace knows! There is no more peaceful place than the soul deep affirmation that you are loved and in that breath no words are needed.
Not. One. Word.
So where does that kind of love begin and grace abound?
“We must first realize that LOVE is the environment that we ourselves are already living inside of.
Love has to be a Person to us before it can become a verb.” Scott Saul
At this day’s end……..
This small heart is overcome by God’s love that wraps me all up tight and swells over my life such palpable grace.
Where DOES that kind of love begin and grace extend?
In and through me….
In and through you…..
Grace and love speak louder than words. ALWAYS!
Lord, keep me mindful of the your extreme love and grace extended to me. May my habit of love and grace’s response be exponentially the same on even the hardest days.
When I am wrangling my own demons write love and grace in my heart. For all of my days; the good, challenging, when I don’t feel well, knees are swollen, head is aching, have worked hard on the sweatiest, coldest, draining, did not sleep well last night, aggravated, in need of heart rest and self care, backbreaking and enduring days.
And yes Lord, may we walk humbly in the love and grace that responds because of our personal relationship with Jesus Christ. May our heavenly minded action respond as an outpouring of love and grace extended…
May all that we know intellectually be true, honest and authentic as our lives speak of who God is-
We love because God first loved us!
May our anthem cry be that of our view toward heaven and the level ground at the foot of the cross…..
Come ye sinners, poor and needy.
Weak and wounded, sick and sore.
Jesus, ready, stands to save you.
Full of pity, joined with power…
Let not conscience make you linger
Nor of fitness fondly dream.
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