God invites us to be objects of grace instead of performance artists.

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As a minister, it is quite easy to think, “I must make this sermon practical, otherwise it will be forgotten and no one will see the point.” On one hand, this is well-intentioned, as a communicator should want the message (especially the message of the good news of God) to stick and for people to see that it is not about abstraction or stale philosophy. On the other hand, it can warp our focus. And surely Christianity is about more than me!

In Luke 1, Zechariah, expectant father of John the Baptist, receives a visit of an angel who tells him that his wife, Elizabeth will bear. John should have been content with what he saw and heard, but asked, “What proof do I get?” What! An angelic vision is not enough? The angel responded, “Here is your sign: you won’t be able to talk until he is born!” Months of silence. While preaching this passage, I realized that one could hear this message and think, “I’m like Zechariah. I’m not good at trusting, trying, or believing.” And if that thought goes untested, then the good news of Christ is overlooked. The truth is, we are indeed like Zechariah, but our coming short often lays upon us feelings of guilt and shame which can eclipse the good news.

I took a lesson from Zechariah. How did he deal with his doubt and his woeful action? He moved the subject and verb from us and moved it to God. Friends, this is good news, indeed. God holds us and is benevolent toward us. God has looked favorably upon us and redeemed us. God maintains covenant. God has given us and the world a savior and has shown us everlasting tender mercy and we can “serve God without fear,” using Zechariah’s words.

We are not saved by our certainty or our dithering. We are saved by God and not by our performance. God bestows salvation and redemption, the Lord reconciles and gives grace. God is the subject; love is the verb; we are the objects. We are recipients of Divine love, the objects of grace. This is an important mental practice for us: turn from making it about us and our failings and allow the intent and action of God to tell the story: God gives grace and salvation to people like us. You, friend, are an object of God’s loving. May you sense this deep, abiding truth in your life today.

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