Christianity, faith

But For Grace, There Go I

Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited (Romans 12:16).

Today, the pastor did a switch of sermon. I don’t know if he was led by the Holy Spirit to do so or if he had seen something from one congregants that caused it. But it was a message that was needed. Not just today, not just our church. But by the body of Christ globally.

You see churches like Westboro Baptist, evangelical churches, and others today forgetting that they were sinners at one point. They seem to have forgotten that they had a calling to kneel at the altar rail and ask for forgiveness. That they are still not worthy of grace but are given that grace because of the love of God through the death and resurrection of Christ.

Somewhere along the line, they forgot about hating the sin and loving the sinner. Members of the church as a whole have gotten to a point where they condemn a person instead of simply explaining sin and redemption through the shed blood of Christ. Or like my grandmother would have said in her sweet southern/midwestern mixed Ozarks voice, you catch more flies with honey than you do vinegar.

The passage for his message was Matthew 20: 1-16. “For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard.He agreed to pay them a denarius[a] for the day and sent them into his vineyard.“About nine in the morning he went out and saw others standing in the marketplace doing nothing.He told them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard, and I will pay you whatever is right.’So they went. “He went out again about noon and about three in the afternoon and did the same thing.About five in the afternoon he went out and found still others standing around. He asked them, ‘Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?’“‘Because no one has hired us,’ they answered. “He said to them, ‘You also go and work in my vineyard.’“When evening came, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the workers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last ones hired and going on to the first.’“The workers who were hired about five in the afternoon came and each received a denarius.So when those came who were hired first, they expected to receive more. But each one of them also received a denarius.When they received it, they began to grumble against the landowner.‘These who were hired last worked only one hour,’ they said, ‘and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden of the work and the heat of the day.’“But he answered one of them, ‘I am not being unfair to you, friend. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius?Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you.Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ “So the last will be first, and the first will be last.

He reminded us that, like the ones who had worked all day, those that have been in the faith for a long time, tend to forget that the redemption of Christ’s blood covers everybody who asks. He reminded us that it has the same exact value for those that came to that altar 50 years ago as well as those that hit the altar yesterday or have yet to hit it. He could have just as easily used the verse of the Pharisee and the sinner. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector.I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).

Having spoke with him after service, I told him that switching a message to one that calls the faithful to account is very seldom welcomed. The Pharisees had grown so pompous, that they ran their Messiah ragged and eventually to the Cross because of their inflated self-worth. Many Christians today have that same self inflation. But this pastor had an inspiration to remind them that their time in God’s service doesn’t equate for more love than new Christians or even those who yet have the calling to come to the Savior.

After his message, he did something I have never seen a pastor do in the 51 years I have been alive and the 40 plus years I have been going to services. He went and knelt at the altar while the final hymn was sung. I found it amazing that even a pastor realized he still isn’t perfect. Many congregants in all denominations need to see his example and remember the old adage, ‘but for the grace of God, there go I’.

I understand that this may not seem like much to most. But seeing how the pulpits have become compromised and even desecrated by soft wording and no fire by the pastors, a person doesn’t need to look hard to see why our neighborhoods, towns, nations, and world are in the position that they are in.

This pastor doesn’t preach with the flair or flame of men like Billy Sunday or Billy Graham. But he speaks with the humility and humbleness of a saint. He allows the words to be like arrows of the Holy Spirit. May this man’s ministry be blessed and a blessing, calling even the saved to repentance. Because no matter how long ago you knelt at that altar, tears of regret flowing down your cheeks, and asked for Christ to be the master of your life, we all still need repentance and the renewing of Christ’s saving grace.

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