"No Selfies Needed When God Offers His Grace"
October 9, 2017
Philippians 3:12-14 - Not that I have already obtained it or have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brothers and sisters, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.
In yesterday's sermon, I quoted one of my favorite authors, Philip Yancey. In his book, What's So Amazing About Grace?, he defines one of the big words of the Christian faith: grace. Grace is often described as "undeserved love." Some have said grace is "God's Righteousness At Christ's Expense." I like how Yancey defined it when he said, "Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us more, and grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us less."
In other words, your works don't matter when it comes to God's grace for you. Your resume, your list of accomplishments and, thankfully, your sins as well -- they don't matter because God loves you by grace in Jesus Christ. His unconditional love is a complete gift, repentantly received by faith alone. A selfie, even the best one you can muster, it won't cut. But thank God it doesn't have to.
One of the blessings and, unfortunately, one of the curses of the technological age has been this thing called Facebook. Have you heard about it? I'm sure you have. At its best, it is the ability to catch up with friends that you haven't seen or heard from in years. It's a way to share experiences and keep up with what's going on with those you love. Unfortunately, it's also a way to gather the worst of our impulses, the flash mobs of violence and crime, the cyber bullying, and the documentation of our foolishness for all to see. I read the other day that Facebook actually is causing depression in many young people. Why? Because they see what they think is going on in other people's lives; they compare that to the reality of their own, and they find themselves wanting, pining, for things they don't think they can ever have. The problem: most of those other people's posts share only the good things, but none of the bad. Most of these Facebook posts don't paint the whole picture.
We live in a world of Facebook posts of half of the reality of the moment. We live in a world of selfies where we hope that no one sees the whole picture of what is really going on in our lives.
St. Paul rescues us from that reality with God's Word today. He is telling you that Christ's people can be honest with themselves. He even gives us a glimpse of his life -- sins and all. He is willing to get real with you and me so that we can see the real blessing of life and salvation in Jesus alone. No caricatures of life in Facebook form. No selfies needed. Why? Because selfies don't paint the whole picture of our sin, our need before God. And selfies miss the ultimate reality of life: that we have a Savior who is Christ the Lord.
That's not a Facebook reality; that's a faith-book offer of grace. That's not a selfie, that's a (here it comes) selflessie life that trusts in Christ for all things and serves others in His Name. To that end, may God keep you in that grace!
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, Your grace is so wonderful when I really see what it overcomes in my life and what it offers to me because of Jesus. May that guide me in all things. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Rev. Dr. Gregory Seltz
Speaker of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries