Farmville Enterprise April 5, 2017
Throughout the ages people have poured out their hearts in letters to those whom they have loved. Dave Frey of the musical group Sidewalk Prophets wrote these lyrics, combining words he had penned to various family members and friends during some challenging times or new adventures.
“Be strong in the Lord and never give up hope. You’re going to do great things. I already know God’s got his hand on you so don’t live life in fear. Forgive and forget, but don’t forget why you’re here. Take your time and pray. Thank God for each day. His love will find a way. These are the words I would say.” The “simple truths” imparted here could be from a parent to a child who has gone off to college, a supportive friend to someone going through a trial or a retiring youth minister to the teens in her church.
The apostle Paul described beautifully his hope for Christians in Ephesus and beyond. “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how side and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:16-19)
What words would you impart to your dearest friends or family members? I would stress the grace and joy that are ours in Christ Jesus, although these larger-than-life truths seem too constrained on paper. “The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44) Jesus made the point in this parable that it was worth giving up everything in order to find the kingdom of God. We joyfully elevate this discovery as our highest priority because it belongs there. We only take part in the kingdom of heaven through faith. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9) We can’t earn it. We can’t do anything to make God love us any more than he already does.
I particularly appreciate one line in the Presbyterian Book of Order that encapsulates these basic truths. “In affirming with the earliest Christians that Jesus is Lord, the Church confesses that he is its hope, and that the Church, as Christ’s body, is bound to his authority and thus free to live in the lively, joyous reality of the grace of God.”