Love Mercy, Do Justice June 2023 Scripture Reflection

Vicky Reier   -  

Saved by faith…and then what? 

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. Eph 2:4-9 

Jesus became real to me when I was in high school. In 1971 my best friend, Gayle, and I went to an outdated Billy Graham film, heard a presentation of the “Four Spiritual Laws” and were invited to a church. Gayle trusted Christ that night. My faith was the result of being in Sunday School and Church and hearing more clearly what it meant to trust Jesus with my life. My life was forever changed; and then, thankfully, it changed again. 

So much of my Christian experience included Campus Life, Bible studies, Church, Christian books and learning everything I could about the life of Jesus. I literally wanted to be able to “be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.” I truly believed that what mattered most was how much I knew and how well I could “defend the faith.” Christianity in the 70’s, 80’s and much of the 90’s was focused on making disciples who would make more disciples. I was really good at it. I was all in! 

Sadly, while my knowledge expanded, my capacity for being compassionate and open hearted hadn’t expanded much. After a series of personal losses and pain that left me a single mom of four children, I realized that nothing about my knowledge was of much help or comfort to me. As I began to heal the brokenness, with the help of good therapists and loving friends, I realized that I had not become more like Jesus, the one who spent his time with people who were heartbroken or sick and unclean or just living on the margins.  I had actually become more like a Pharisee, having learned to give quick biblical answers to questions no one was asking. 

It was the kindness of God’s people that helped me remember that I was still beloved. It was my experience of Jesus giving me grace for the hard days that gave me hope. It was admitting that I couldn’t “know” my way through the challenges of life and it was the mercy of God that was always going to be enough for me. My broken heart also broke open my spirit to all that God had for me. Faith is not supposed to be about me proving how worthy I am. Faith is my opportunity to practice kindness and mercy and grace. It is about feeling loved and forgiven so that I can actually offer that same gift to every one of God’s image bearers I meet.