Responsible Grace

Here it is the end of summer. You're finally back in a routine, found your way to church yesterday, and, boom - prophets.

If you were in The Well yesterday, Jeremiah put you on trial for trading what is life-giving (God) for what is life-taking (idols). Ouch.

Isaiah was a bit more hopeful in the sanctuary, at least pointing to a day when things would be better, even if that day isn't quite upon us.

Prophets aren't summertime reads if we expect our summers to be light and fun. Then again, life's challenges and the demands of discipleship don't follow our fabricated cycles of when things are supposed to be light.

The prophets often ridiculed Israel during times of prosperity for not using their resources and relative peace to do better by those in need. It was in times of great difficulty that the prophets offered words of comfort and hope.

To use a Wesleyan way of thinking about it - we are called to be people of responsible grace.

God is gracious to us in good times and in bad. Sometimes that grace is comforting and sometimes that grace demands responsibility.

Contrary to a juvenile mindset, to be asked to do something for God and another is not a violation of your personal rights; it is grace. It's grace because God has given you gifts to offer and knows you can help bring about his Kingdom.

Even God's "jealousy" (requiring that we place God above everything else) is grace because it signifies that God values us highly enough to care what we devote ourselves to and knows that the best outcome for us is when that devotion is to God and his Kingdom.

Finally, I'll warn you that if you thought yesterday was one of those days when the prophets have their fit and then we forget what they have to say, Jesus will lay down his most demanding talk yet this coming Sunday.

More on that next time...