25th September 2011

Much To Be Thankful For

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the glorious appearing of our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ….
Titus 2:11-14 (NIV UK) 

The Greek-speaking Christians had a word for the Lord’s Supper. They called it Eucharist, which means ‘thanksgiving’. And no wonder, because the greatest gift of all is the gift of God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus has washed away all our sins and become one with us in such a way that he will never let us go. He has raised us with him in his resurrection and included us in the fellowship he has with the Father. 

None of us deserves God’s favour, of course, but God loves us anyway. And because he loves us, he does not leave us in our sins. He not only forgives all our sins, but he also lives in us by the Holy Spirit and transforms us into people who do love him and love others. 

Paul completes the thought in Tutus: …Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.” 

Isn’t that interesting? It isn’t the threat of punishment that teaches us to say no to ungodliness. It isn’t fear that motivates us to love God and love others. It’s God’s grace, his mercy, his love, which bring salvation and teach us to live upright and godly lives. Notice again how the apostle Paul says it: “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…” 

Grace is the starting place. Grace is what brings salvation and what teaches us to live godly lives. God loves us, and he not only saves us, but also transforms us by his Spirit so that we can experience a life of love with him and with our fellow human beings. He doesn’t just forgive our sins and then leave us to continue to be slaves to our sinful nature. The Holy Spirit won’t allow that. 

Can there be any greater comfort than to know that God is faithful to us, even when we are not faithful to him? As the father of the prodigal son, God never gives up on us, and always runs to meet us in joy when he sees us coming down the path toward home. That’s what repentance is all about—coming home, returning to God. We don’t repent in order to get God to forgive us. We repent, that is, we turn back to God, because God is our home. And it’s there, with the Lord, that we share the Lord’s Supper, the Eucharist, with thanksgiving. 

Prayer
Heavenly Father, we have wandered long and lonely, far from you. And yet you welcome us back, home, with open arms and a willing heart. Help us to respond in kind, Holy Father, and make our homecoming the turning point in our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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