8You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. 9 It’s not something you did that you can be proud of.
This morning I am thankful that the gift of salvation is based not on anything I have done to deserve it, but on the Grace of God.
The last few days have proven what I already knew: the world is hurting. So many people have reached out to me, in support and in disgust, because of the words I wrote in another editorial. I had to deactivate my Facebook account because I was getting at least 25 messages and 200 friend requests an hour. At first, I tried to respond to each of you, but it just became physically impossible to do so.
To the ones I offended, I sincerely apologize. In my anger, I spoke with words dripping in the very hatred I oppose. My message of acceptance was lost in my words of intolerance. I am human; I was angry, and I was not speaking from my pastor’s heart. I can only ask for your forgiveness with the humble knowledge that I don’t deserve it.
To the ones whose hearts I touched, do not lose hope. While my method was not a proper one, the motivation behind it obviously lies hidden in a great number of our silent hearts. We long to find Grace in our graceless world. So many who contacted me had left the church from feelings of disconnectedness, and even worse, feelings of being pushed away, not being wanted, and not feeling loved. I want you to know that you are wrong; we may not always do a good job of showing you, but we love you.
We simply must find a way to push aside the hatred and intolerance in our society, the marginalization of so many groups, the excommunication of so many people. We are all God’s creations, every one of us, even the ones we don’t agree with. We cannot build a kingdom of God unless we resolve to do it together.
My mother told me that my Ma and Pa were yellow dog Democrats, FDR Democrats, and everyone in the small, rural county knew it. But when she turned 18, she rebelled by declaring that she was for the Republican candidate for governor. My grandfather went to the local courthouse and picked up a bumper sticker for her; he even allowed her to put it on the family truck. He thought it was funny, as did both his Democratic and Republican friends. And they all sat by one another in the pews on Sunday morning and left their politics at the door. My mother asked me what happened to that, when did believing in your own party mean having to hate the other one. I don’t have the answer, and I was sucked into the division I abhor so much on Saturday morning.
But I know that there is an answer. It is in the hearts of everyone who seeks to live like Christ and love their neighbor. We can fight over party platform, we can fight over the meaning of specific scriptures, but in the end, we are all following and loving the same God. We must get back to that.
For those who asked me for suggestions of books to read to help you find your faith again, I will publish a list on here soon.
For those who asked for suggestions of accepting and loving churches, find a steeple and walk in. If the first one doesn’t fit you, try a different one next Sunday. Find a small group Bible Study and join in an open discussion. Go to a fall festival or children’s choir event, in fact, go to several. Return to your temple or your mosque; read the sacred book your parents believed in. God is there. He misses you. And His Grace does not depend on someone else’s opinion of you, or on anything you have done wrong in your past, or on anything you think you have done wrong today. God loves you, and He is waiting for you to return.
34 Then the king will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who will receive good things from my Father. Inherit the kingdom that was prepared for you before the world began. 35 I was hungry and you gave me food to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger and you welcomed me. 36 I was naked and you gave me clothes to wear. I was sick and you took care of me. I was in prison and you visited me.’
37 Then those who are righteous will reply to him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you a drink? 38 When did we see you as a stranger and welcome you, or naked and give you clothes to wear?39 When did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 Then the king will reply to them, ‘I assure you that when you have done it for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you have done it for me.’