sermon summary: 2 ways to live

I ve given myself some time to think about how Sunday went. I preached from Hebrews 12:15 See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and through it many become defiled. The basic thrust of my message was that there are two ways to live: one is to live by grace; the other is to live by willpower and effort. We are surrounded and filled with unpleasant things, which I summarize as sufferings (external) and sin (internal). These are bitter . It is one thing to recognize this and to observe it dispassionately. It is another to allow these things to sink in until they sour us to the point where we resign ourselves to a hopeless fatalism. This is where trouble sets in because we ve allowed the bitter things to define life and ourselves. This leads, finally, to defilement where we are polluted into believing that this is who we are and always shall be, as well as everyone else. The human response to this cycle is either resignation to just give in and let it take its course; or to fight against it with an effort that can be religious or disciplinarian. This whole human enterprise is useless. As we learn elsewhere, it is not by might nor by power. It is not by human effort or even desire. These fail and perish with use. We should know that by now. The only response is to obtain grace . Not just live in it or near it or to understand it, but to get it! The cross of Christ negates all our efforts at conquering the bitter things in ourselves and in our world. Grace says that we are forgiven and that the transformation comes from another source other than our willpower and our efforts. It is from God through Christ on the cross, and its power makes new creations out of us. So as I write this, I realize that my frustration in trying to communicate this on Sunday still remains. I am intuitively convinced that this is true, but it is deeper than I am able to articulate with clarity. Maybe soon.

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