“But grace was given to each one of us…” Ephesians 4:6
Today, let us examine an illustration from the Lord’s created work. The first photo will warn us of what we can easily become, while the other two will clearly depict what we’ve been called to be. The former is representative of our greatest fear; the latter couple exemplify what we long for. Which currently describes you?
We’ve all seen similar bodies of water. Perhaps we've observed the like in a large spill of a dried-out creek bed, maybe we've surveyed such in a swampy marshland, or noticed the scum of a pond in the midst of a hot summer's pasture, but to be sure, we’ve all witnessed the unwelcoming sights and smells of old water with nowhere to go. Often algae covered and parasite-ridden, these large puddles have become stagnant. At one point, maybe through a creek, series of streams, or heavy rains, fresh water poured into the low-lying area. However, with the absence of fresh water, that which remains has no outlet for release. In fact, what’s left is so detestable it’s as if evaporation has denied this moisture any hope of reentering the water cycle. Some folks are beach people; others enjoy visiting a local reservoir; yet no one goes for a soak at a mosquito-infested lagoon.
Then there is the alpine lake. It is altogether different in its appearance and function. Water here is cool and clear, clean and attractive. It is a life giving body of water, as snow and glacial melt not only flow into it, but through it and out of it as well. Animals and hikers alike are drawn to such picturesque places, where on a clear day, the inexhaustible source of the lake is clearly reflected. Again, some folks are beach people; others hit the water with their boat and skis; then there are those who might identify themselves as mountain people (my family); but truly, folks that have experienced (in person) the majesty of alpine lakes such as the one pictured below, typically (if not always) become mountain / alpine lake people.
In Genesis 12 God promised Abraham that he would become a great and mighty people. The Lord told the first patriarch that he would be blessed in order to be a blessing – that all nations would be blessed through his line (Genesis 12:1-3). Paul reiterates a picture consistent with this idea in 2nd Corinthians 5. Since the old has passed away and newness in Christ has come, believers are called to live in a new way. Those who have received reconciliation with the Father through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice are to now become themselves reconcilers (2 Corinthians 5:17-20). We too have been blessed to be a blessing. Those who have received grace are to share and dispense grace to the world around them. We have been redeemed to resemble the alpine picture above – grace pouring in, simultaneously gushing out.
Unfortunately, we often forget the damnation we’ve been saved from, digressing into the spiritual equivalent of dammed-up ponds. Perhaps we are hearing truth preached, maybe even studying the Scriptures for ourselves. But if the Word is not applied, lived-out, and shared through our daily lives and conversations, it is retained in vain. While this may be difficult to believe, faith grows stagnant without new mercies coming in; profession alone becomes repulsive without brooks of gracious, loving-kindness rushing from the hands and feet of those who have been reconciled to the Father.
When we isolate from community and living in light of our reconciled state, we work like a colony of beavers to the demise of our own souls. For without being tapped into the Living Water, without means to release the message of reconciliation, we become ineffective and unfruitful (2 Peter 1:8). Ah, but if we are living at the foot of the cross, if we are positioning our lives to be soaked beneath the fountain of His faithfulness, basking in the riches of His righteousness, if we are seeking to extend life-giving hope and fellowship through the abundant overflow of His love, we have something entirely different to offer. Such an approach draws people in, not to marvel in the individual at all, but rather, to revere the One being reflected. So then, as it pertains to grace, are we complacent, closed-off cesspools or refreshing reservoirs reflecting the heart of our Redeemer?
Associate Pastor of Missions & Students