Come to me all you who are weary and burdened
and I will give you rest.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.
Just moments ago I read a message about the things God could have asked of us in order to secure our salvation. It made me laugh because of course, the point was that grace is a gift. Grace is not something to be earned, thankfully, because none of us is capable of earning it. It also made me laugh because of some experiences my husband and I have had at different churches.
In our search for a church home we visited a few places. One stands out as we attended there for several months. We were considering becoming members even though we weren’t quite sure it was the place for us. Very quickly we would find out that it was not, nope, not at all. We met with the pastor and he outlined the things we would need to do to “qualify” for membership. There were several items on the list one of which was to be “rebaptized.” Excuse me? Apparently the baptism that my husband and I received wasn’t “good enough.” Given the many ways I’ve seen the Lord work in my husband, in me and in us as a couple, I know that I am his child. God has already accepted me, adopted me. I’m good enough for God but not for this particular church.
Reading that message this morning I was reminded of that and of conversations with other believers who have left churches for similar reasons. Those churches have standards and some of us just don’t meet them.
God, who could, as the message I read made very clear, ask anything of us before allowing us into his family, asks only one thing. He asks us to receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior. He asks us to accept a gift! There are no hoops, no strings, no dotted lines on which to sign. There is simply grace.
Our pastor is fond of saying, “All means all, y’all.” (Yes, we live in the South.) He says it over and over because we need to hear it over and over. Yes, Jesus loves me and that person over there who makes me crazy. All means all and all are invited in by GRACE. Father, Son and Holy Spirit require less of us than most churches. As a pastor I once knew used to say, “Now that’s good news!”