January 6 2019
In the book, God Unbound, Elaine Heath, through her study of Paul’s Letter to the Galatians, draws attention to Paul’s handling of tradition. A Jewish man who was brought up to believe that God was God of the Jews came to see that God was God for all people. While actually involved in fiercely defending his Jewish tradition he had the experience that changed everything for him. He saw that God’s love was not limited to people of his tradition, but that God’s love embraced all people of every religious or political tradition. God has spoken to Israel, but that was for the sake of all people everywhere. The story of wise men coming from the East bearing gifts for the infant Jesus carries this same theme. God’s Spirit is working in the lives of people everywhere drawing them toward the realm where God’s will is done and where all live in right relationship with each other, with their environment, and with God. God is seeking to draw all people into his kingdom as Jesus called his fisherfolk disciples to draw people of their day into that realm. However, many are not aware of the call. They stifle the voice, or drown out the invitation with other noise. In other words, sin gets in the way. But that does not void the presence and power of God at work in all communities and among all people. John Wesley called this Prevenient Grace, the grace and power of God present in the lives of people who have not yet heard of Jesus or consciously responded to the Gospel. So the missionary goes to a people where Christ is already present incognito; the missionary’s task is to make him known. The Spirit of God is seeking to do a work of grace in the lives of all that we meet. He asks us to be ready to be used as the catalyst bringing them into an awareness of what God is doing.
- Paul saw that Christ was God’s gift for all people. What are the implications for us if we accept this?
- Where do you see signs of God working to draw people into his world of peace and justice, goodness and compassion, faith, hope and love?
- What affect does it have on our relationships with other people if we believe that God’s Spirit is seeking to do a work of grace in the life of every person that we meet?
- What message do you get from your reading on Matthew 2:1-12?