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Newaygo United Methodist Church
Sunday, November 19, 2017
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors

My Grace Is Sufficient

My Grace Is Sufficient

2 Corinthians 12:2-10

7/8/12

Some things about today’s scripture should be noted.  Paul speaks of a vision he had, but talks about it in the third person.  We need to remember that Paul did not have the privilege of seeing Jesus first hand as the original disciples had.  His authority came from his conversion experience, his call from Christ and his visions.  He does not claim power and authority because of his visions, he claims his power and authority as teacher and preacher on the day to day ways that he proclaimed and lived the life of faith.  There may have been others who were boasting about their visions and claiming authority to be spokespersons for Christ.  So let’s hear what Paul has to say.  (read 2 Corinthians 12:2-10)

 

Yesterday we had a wedding here.   Except for the parking problem with all the kayakers, rafters, and tubers on the river, things went well.  After the wedding was over, while pictures were being taken Joe noticed a little girl who seemed to be fascinated with the stained glass picture of Jesus.  Both her grandmother and her mother brought her to the window so she could examine it.  It was fascinating watching her very serious little face study the window.  Joe said she really wanted to touch Jesus’ face, but there was no way to get her up that high without serious danger.  Still she wanted to come back and look at the picture.  Both her mom and her grandmother told her that the picture was Jesus.  I would imagine the way that little girl studied that picture, she had implanted that image in her brain in the form of a memory that might stay with her.  I could just see her family driving by this church and the little girl proclaiming that it was Jesus in that window.  As much as she might have wanted to, the little girl would not get her wish to touch Jesus’ face.  But what she did get was sufficient to implant a seed of a memory that might find fruition in its own good time.  For her God’s grace was sufficient.

Sometimes I think it would be nice to have the gift of healing or visions like Paul.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have oratory skills or writing skills that would set the world on fire for the gospel.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to have prophetic, teaching and organizational skills that would help carry this church into growing by leaps and bounds and setting this community ablaze with faith.  Sometimes I think it would be nice to be a mother Theresa or a Billy Graham or one of the great saints of faith.  How many of us have wanted to be something special or to have an astounding experience of faith that we could lay claim to, that would give us some weight of authority in how we talk about our faith? 

How many of us have a dream of being important of being known for some gift or ability.  How many of us want to believe our lives are special, a cut above the usual.  We want to do things better than others.  We want to have things more spectacular than others.  We even want to have things go wrong better than others.  Our illnesses, our surgeries, our diagnoses have to stand out.  Deep down we want to be better, more spectacular, even have things go more wrong than anyone else.  Maybe that’s part of our competitiveness as human beings.  So often we want more, better, bigger.  The only trouble with that type of competitive thinking is that someone will always come along who has skills that are more, better, bigger than we have.  Perhaps those people in Paul’s time who were claiming their visions as a basis for authority were competing with one another for the biggest and best visions.

Sometimes I hope I never get the gift of healing or visions.  Sometimes I hope I do not have good oratory or writing skills that would set the world on fire.  Sometimes I hope I don’t have prophetic, teaching or organizational skills that would help this church begin to grow by leaps and bounds.  Sometimes I hope I’m not a Mother Theresa or another Billy Graham or one of the great saints of faith,  I don’t want to be special or have an astounding experience of faith that I could lay claim to.  I don’t want the authority.  I don’t want to be noticed.  I simply want a quiet faith that goes unnoticed.  How many of us have the wish to go unnoticed, to not have any special gifts or abilities.  How many of us don’t want our lives to stand out? 

Somewhere between the two extremes of wanting to be spectacular and have spectacular lives and hoping we don’t draw too much attention to ourselves is where most of us exist in our lives.  We believe ourselves to be important but not too important.  We believe ourselves to have some skills, but nothing out of the ordinary.  We know we are better at some things than others are, yet we also know that others can do some things better than we can.  But one thing we can be assured of, and that is no matter how our standing in our community of faith is around us, God’s grace is sufficient for us.  We do not need to be Paul’s, to have visions, or engage in spectacular acts of faith to be good Christians.  All we need is to live by God’s grace. 

That does not mean we are exempt from doing something about our faith.  That does not mean that we withdraw from the world and live quiet, unobtrusive lives.  Living by the grace of God means that we use what God has given us to give something of our faith to others.  That means that our behavior toward others stems from our faith, from our sense and spirit of what Jesus wants us to do.  Faith does not have to be shared in spectacular ways, though there are some of us who are called to do just that in extreme acts of faith and courage. 

The mother and grandmother probably were not people of great faith, but the little they knew they were able to share with that small little girl through the picture this church has provided to itself and this community.  It is the grace of God that lets a picture speak to a little girl and to others who may look its way.

We are like pictures of Jesus in the little ways we share our faith.  Our faith is made up of pieces of stain glass experiences that allow enough sunlight through to catch others’ attention.  When enough of those pieces come together to make a more complete picture in us, faith may blossom and grow in another.  In our most feeble attempt to act like Christ, God’s grace is sufficient to help that happen. 

 

 

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