Once formed, faithful's relationship with God won't be severed
The Rev. Randy Beeman, pastor, First Christian Church, 1000 Ky.:
I love taking walks and hikes with my son. When he was young, I can remember walking near a creek that was raging after a recent thunderstorm. He tightly held my hand.
He was pretty confident as a young boy and at one point begged me to let go of his hand as we walked along the creek. I was not going to let go of his hand, even though he threw quite the stubborn tantrum. I loved him and would not let go.
Jesus said that once we freely trust him, "that I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand." God also reminds us that "being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
All of this points to the fact that a loving God who has taken hold of the hand that we have stretched forth to God, will not let go. The security of our relationship with God is totally dependent upon God, not upon us. If the stability of my relationship with God was entirely based upon me and my wayward emotions and feelings, I would be in trouble.
One day I would be saved, the next I wouldn't. We are God's children, and we will at times fuss, struggle, attempt to pull away and say things we don't really mean. During all of this, God lovingly holds onto our life and will never let us go.
- Send e-mail to Randy Beeman at email@example.com.
Mankind's tendency toward exclusion not what Jesus wanted
The Rev. Kent Winters-Hazelton, pastor, First Presbyterian Church, 2415 Clinton Parkway:
Can the love of the Holy One be limited toward anyone? The Bible's story is of a God who challenges us to widen the circle of God's people.
Our human tendency is to draw the line on who might be in and who is not. We put up boundaries, saying you have to be like this, to believe these things and practice life in this manner, in order to be included. But God constantly pushes against our walls, reminding us that divine grace is always greater than our barriers.
I once served as a chaplain at a maximum-security prison. One of the inmates, a young man still in his teens, had been convicted of multiple murders. He was sentenced to die.
He said to me, "I am a Christian now. But I can't help but wonder, can God forgive me for what I've done?" Over the years his question has disturbed my soul. I have come to the conclusion that God's wisdom and grace is far beyond my finite comprehension.
Whenever I want to set limits, God always pushes against me, saying, "How can I limit my love to just a few? How can I not include this person and that group of people?"
Once Jesus was asked, "How often shall I forgive, seven times?" Jesus answered, "Not seven times, but seventy times seven." Christians have understood this number to mean infinite or unending. In other words, there should be no limit to our willingness to forgive. If we are called to such a radical practice of reconciliation, can we expect anything less from God?
- Send e-mail to Kent Winters-Hazelton at firstname.lastname@example.org.