Heart Palpitations and God's Grace
Last night I had a rather unusual thing happen. I was asleep and I was in a dream state when my heart started behaving strangely. It felt enlarged. As if someone was trying to get my heart started again. It scared me, I will go to the doctors about it; It made me think for a few moments about my weakness, my body is frail. My legs will never be perfect having been damaged in my late teens. As physically weak as I am my spirit is even frailer, a mixture of impulses and emotions, fears, envy and love all bundled together in one beautiful mess. Despite the mess that is Joseph Turner; there is God, who died for me before I even asked him too. In the ultimate act of kindness for there is no greater love than this that a man should give up his life for his friend. Jesus said to the Pharisees (the religious leaders of the day), “I tell you the truth the prostitutes and the tax collectors will enter Heaven ahead of you.” And he meant it, these men who through their frailty tried to reach God managed to push him further from them than they could possibly imagine. Why? Because God is not impressed by our attempts at holiness, he is perfected in our weakness. Admitting you don’t have it all together is at the heart of the gospel. Jesus said “Healthy people don't need a doctor--sick people do.”
One of the most interesting parables and well known of Jesus’s ministry was of the man who was left mugged and bleeding by the side of road. Jesus described the religious leaders of the day passing him by. Then he is saved by a Samaritan man (considered outcast by society), given a place to stay, looked after and even given a room in an inn, paid for by the Samaritan. The message of this is often interpreted as love thy neighbour. That is not the whole truth of this message. You see Jesus was saying essentially we are the person left mugged by the side of the road, we are ones in need of a saviour. The first and most important step in receiving grace is realising the hopelessness of your situation. It’s realising that bad people can do good things too. That we are in fact bleeding in a ditch spiritually, the life slowly draining out of us. Our deliverer stands with his hand outstretched ready to lift us out the ditch, feed us, clothe us and carry us to safety. God has already done the work we have only to be led like sheep beside the still and restful waters, to lye down in green pastures and rest in God’s abundant grace; to accept the help of this kind stranger.