Broken: Good News in Tough Times, All Inclusive Grace
This is the fifth week of our message series Broken: good news in tough times. We’ve covered a lot of ground over the last four weeks, so if you have missed any of those messages or there’s one you would like to share with someone you can find the messages in a blog or podcast form at saintmary.life.
Today our message is entitled: All Inclusive Grace.
So let me ask you a question. How many of you have ever received something for “free?” We see advertisements all the time for “Buy one, get one free,” or even pets that are “free to a good home.” There are a lot of things that may even seem “free” to us – things like water, the food we eat, or even gifts that we were given today.
The truth is, though, that very few things in life are truly free. Everything has a cost, and somebody pays it. If you are “buying one and getting one free,” that second item still cost some money and someone, somewhere, is paying for it. There is a simple saying about this, “There is no such thing as a free.” It basically means that ven if you don’t have to pay for something, someone else did. Nothing is really free.
So, if nothing is free, we might ask ourselves what that means about our faith? Does it cost something to get into heaven or to follow Jesus? What could you give to God that would make Him give you heaven?
To be honest, if the world was a completely fair place, we couldn’t get into heaven. There is nothing that we can do on our own that makes us worthy of heaven. We can’t bargain our way in, we can’t pay money to get in, we can’t work our way in. What do we do? Thankfully, God knew that there was nothing we could do that would make us worthy of heaven. In Paul’s letter to the Romans, he tells us that “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) It explains further that even though we have sinned and aren’t worthy of God, through Jesus Christ we have been given a gift. All of us. God leaves nobody out. His grace is all inclusive.
We have been given the grace to get into heaven. God chose us, God chose you. You might be “like me” and look at your life with all of your struggles and all of your brokenness, and say, “How could God choose me? I am a mess. I don’t deserve His love. They say God knows me and loves me but if that is true, and he really does know all that I have done, He could never love me.” If that is you, listen to me right now, because I have good news for you: God chose you. God chose you. You didn’t choose Him, He chose you. With all of your mess, in all of your brokenness, and yes, even with your past, God chose you anyway. He doesn’t excuse your struggles, He forgives them and encourages us to move to something more. That something more is a relationship, and ultimately eternal life in heaven with Him. And he gives us grace to get there.
Grace is the free and undeserved gift we are given of God’s favor and life. We said during Advent that Grace — is — favor. Grace — is — God’s — help. We are given grace at our baptism, and it is a lot like a seed. At our baptism we were given grace, God’s very life, and it was placed inside each of us. This grace is important, because it changes who we are. It’s much like growing plants. Before planting a seed, the dirt that is used is only dirt. Dirt can sit for a hundred years and still not have any chance of growing anything. But when a seed is planted, it changes. A seed planted is the beginning of a new plant.
When God gives us His grace through our baptism, we change. We become a daughter or son of God, and nothing can ever change that. No matter what we do, we will always be a part of God’s family. Even though grace is inside of us, working in our lives, we can still choose to ignore it. If I ignore it (this seed) and don’t take care of it, it will never grow. But, if I make sure to water it and make sure it gets lots of sunlight, pretty soon I will have a healthy plant. And if God is faithful to plant the seed, He is faithful to send the rain.
Grace inside of us is the same way. If we don’t nourish the grace we received at Baptism by allowing God to have a relationship with us through prayer, the Sacraments, and with our Church family, the grace inside of us won’t ever grow. But why do we need grace to grow? Because just like a seed eventually can become a strong plant or tree, the grace that God gives us helps us to grow in relationship with Him and those around us. As we feed that grace inside of us and strengthen our relationship with Jesus, we grow closer to him.
We talked about grace earlier and how it is freely given to us. Grace is free to us, but it still has a cost. We only have race because God the Father allowed us His only Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for our sins. It is because of that sacrifice that we are able to have salvation. Salvation is God’s forgiveness of our sins, and the healing of our relationship with God so we can get to heaven. Jesus paid our cost to get to heaven. We need to ask for God to continue to give us His grace.
God wants to make a trade with us. He is trading our sins for His Son, our brokenness for a life with Him. All he wants in return is that we offer Him our whole selves, including all of our sin, failures, and the places where we hurt. He wants to take our current self and give us a better version. He wants to trade us our sin for salvation. He chose us for Himself because he wants us.
The only way the seed of faith that God planted in you dies, is for you not to believe in Him. Only unbelief can deprive us of the salvation that Christ freely offers to us.
This week I ask that you spend some time each day thanking God for the grace that He has given you.
Right now I’d like for all of us to renew our Baptismal Promises. For many of us this was originally stated by our parents. However, we have the opportunity to do this every year at Easter and doing this anytime is a great reminder of thepromise of hope we receive with the grace that is given to us in our baptism. Please stand. The words will be on the screen.
V. Do you renounce Satan?
R. I do.
V. And all his works?
R. I do.
V. And all his empty show?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in God, the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord, who was born of the Virgin Mary suffered death and was buried, rose again from the dead, and is seated at the right hand of the Father?
R. I do.
V. Do you believe in the Holy Spirit, the holy Catholic church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and life everlasting?
R. I do.
V. And may Almighty God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given us new birth by water and the Holy Spirit and bestowed on us forgiveness of our sins, keep us by his grace, in Christ Jesus our Lord, for eternal life.