September 13 Relfections

As a child I can remember hearing sermons on the 10 Commandments. The point it seemed to me at a young age was that I better shape up or God was going to squash me. Or bad things would happen to me if I was not a good boy and follow the commands. I don’t recall hearing a lot of grace connected to the commands, which I find interesting because I grew up in a Reformed Church that taught the Heidelberg Catechism faithfully. The writers of the Heidelberg Catechism place the 10 Commandments squarely in the section on gratitude which follows grace. The Commandments are born in grace as we see in Exodus 20:1-2, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” God’s irresistible grace first…then the commands.

I never tire of preaching/teaching about grace. I hope that has been evident all along in my ministry at First Reformed. God releases us from the prison of sin and death and sets us free to live in love with him and others. It is part of our journey of faith in the story of the Exodus. First in their freedom they needed to learn to trust God. The Red Sea account, the manna, and the water from the rock were all places that God was teaching them to trust him. Now he is going to show them what love for him and others looks like.  These are powerful life changing truths…trust God…love God. But this is after being released. We trust that God loves us first. Grace is a Copernican Revolution.

Copernicus lived in the 1500’s. The scientific community believed that the earth was the center of the universe which meant that everything revolved around the earth. Copernicus proved that the sun was the center and the everything including the earth revolved around the sun. Imagine the change in thinking that this required. Some resisted; others gradually came to accept this truth.

Grace is a Copernican Revolution. For too long we have been led down a path where we think and believe that if we are good enough, then maybe God will love us, and we can get into heaven.  This is the religion of human pride and arrogance. The Scriptures teach a whole new way. God loves us first. God accepts us first. We cannot earn his love. It is gift. We receive it and want to shape our lives around his love not to earn anything, but to live in gratitude for the gift.  We are going to think about this on Sunday as we come to the place of the giving of the 10 Commandments, as part of our spiritual journey of faith.  Some possible passages to read:     Exodus 3:1-10; Exodus 20:1-3; John 8:31-36; Romans 13:8-10.

Grace upon Grace,

Pastor Verlyn