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Posts Tagged ‘grace of God’

Each year, our church holds an ‘Art Installation’ to which all members and attenders are invited to contribute. We are given a theme which, this year, is ‘Transforming Love’, and are encouraged to create something that depicts this, using any medium we choose. Some produce beautiful paintings, sketches or sculptures. Some make mosaics or models from all sorts of materials. Some fashion jewellery or other handcrafted item of clothing. And some. like I myself, create with words, writing poems or reflections or short stories and occasionally adding graphics of some description.

If you live anywhere near western Sydney, you are warmly invited to visit this year’s Art Installation which is currently open each weekday this week and next (2-16 October) from 9.00am -12.00 noon and 7.00pm -9.00pm, plus Saturday 9.00-12.00 and Sunday 9.00-1.00 and 5.00 to 8.30 at Parramatta Baptist Church, 84-94 Kleins Rd, Northmead NSW.

This year, as soon as I saw our theme ‘Transforming Love’, I thought of my own journey of coming to know God’s amazing love more and how I have experienced God unfolding my own wings over the years and enabling me to fly. God knew the desires of my heart, even before I myself was fully aware of them. And, just like the forgiving father in the story of the lost son in Luke 15, God welcomed me home with open arms and set me free to be more of the person I was created to be. The old has gone and the new has come, as the verse at the end of my words below states—and I am so thankful for that.

Transforming Love

Swathed in garments of guilt and shame

Hiding hurts, fearing to fail

Begging to belong, to blossom

To find a friend, to fit

Looking for love

Reaching out

Grace of God

Open arms

Found

Free

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:17

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The discussion flowed back and forth in our lounge room. Our son had just maintained to us that he does not fear God. What he meant, he hastily assured us, was that while he does stand in awe of God, he does not ‘fear’ God in the way we usually understand this word. God for him is a loving, forgiving Father and a close Friend whom he can approach at any time.

Also present in our lounge room was our new son-in-law, who comes from Ghana. And Kofi was determined to have his say too. He and our daughter Tina had just returned from a few weeks in Ghana, so the memory of what they had seen there was fresh in their minds. In Kofi’s hometown, all the houses have bars around them to stop people breaking in. And any showers, toilets etc outside the houses have locks on them – otherwise if you go out there at night, people can hide there and attack you. Yet virtually the whole town closes down on Sundays as most people go to church – and there are plenty of churches to choose from.

So what is going on here? Kofi explained that when his people still had their old gods, everyone could leave their houses unlocked and nothing would disappear. You see, the people were really scared of these gods and the power they had to bring down curses on you and punish you if you did wrong. But once they had their ‘new’ God, things changed. This new God was, and is, different – this new God is loving and kind and forgiving and understanding. So it seems the people aren’t scared to do wrong things because they know if they confess them, they will be forgiven. In their new-found freedom, they have forgotten about the fear of the Lord – and they have also overlooked what Paul says in Romans 6:1-2:

What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?

But I suspect it isn’t only some people in Kofi’s hometown who live this way. How often have I myself had thoughts such as ‘Well, I’ll just go ahead and say that cutting comment or pass on that juicy bit of gossip. God won’t mind!’? Of course it’s wonderful that when we do repent and ask for forgiveness, God freely gives it to us. Yet surely it is right for us to remember who God is and that one day we will all stand before this awesome God and be called upon to give account for our lives?

Recently I read a comment written by Australian man working in the Middle East: In the West we’ve largely forgotten God’s wrath and chosen to focus on His love. We’ve created a one-dimensional cardboard cut-out God, who can only have one emotion at a time – and only the emotion we like. Yet the Bible continually reminds us that God is angry with those who rebel against Him. Hmm …  And I am also reminded of Hebrews 12:28-29:

Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, for our “God is a consuming fire”.

So may we all continue to live our lives filled with awe of God – but also with the grace of God.  Let’s ‘fear’ – but not fear. And hopefully one day in heaven we will understand fully how God holds both of these in perfect tension.

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