Grace be with you – by Marvin Penner
On September 20 I attended the 1 million march for Children. I don’t often go for this kind of thing, but my son and I were curious to see what was happening. I found that marching with such a large crowd was inspiring. I have only ever participated in one other public political demonstration because I think there are better ways to engage with culture and it always worries me that I might confuse a commitment to a current ideology with my commitment to Jesus.
A few days later I read a blog post where Carey Nieuwhof wrote, “More than a few churches have grown by becoming anti-woke rather than pro-grace.” This statement has been spawning a lot of thought and reflection. Are we known by what we are against or by what we are for? Do we even know what we are for or has everything become so politicized that we only know how to be on the defensive?
I’d like to offer a simple suggestion to help answer these kinds of questions on a day-to-day basis. You might have noticed that I sometimes close my emails with the phrase, Grace be with you. I have taken up this habit from the greeting that the Apostle Paul often began his letters with: “Grace and peace be upon you”. “Be upon you” is not something that you or I generate. It’s like when the sun shines on us. We enjoy the warm presence of the sun but have no control over it. It comes from outside of ourselves. However, we can choose to stand in the sun or in the shade. If I apply this to normal living, I can gauge my actions and words by whether they cause me to stand in the presence of God’s grace and peace. Does my participation in the 1 million march for children fill me with anger and the temptation to see some people as outside of the reach of God’s grace or am I filled with love and a de-escalation of my disdain for those with ideas I disagree with? Do I stand in the light and love of the Son or am I drawn to the shade of fear and discord?
As Paul writes in 1 Cor. 13: 11-14, “Dear brothers and sisters, I close my letter with these last words: Be joyful. Grow to maturity. Encourage each other. Live in harmony and peace. Then the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet each other with a sacred kiss. All of God’s people here send you their greetings. May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.