Monday, May 15, 2017

Proclaiming Mighty Acts of Love

1 Peter 2:9 (NRSV): Proclaiming Mighty Acts of Love
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.
Peter’s letter is universal, so its message applies to all Christian communities spread throughout the first-century world. The letter, then, even applies to us today. Peter calls us to be “a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people,” and this can be intimidating. After defining our status as “chosen,” Peter further directs our actions: We are to live out this “royal priesthood” by “[proclaiming] the mighty acts of him who called [us] out of darkness into His marvelous light.” This can be a daunting task for the “average Joe” like me, but God lovingly gives us His grace to accomplish it.
God gives us the free gift of His grace. And it is by this free, unmerited gift that we are able to express devotion and love toward God and charity and mercy toward others. Our Christian task, according to several places throughout Scripture, is to take God’s grace and apply it in our lives through acts of love. Jesus calls us to love God above all things and our neighbor as ourselves (Mark 12:30-31). Naturally, then, the things from which God’s grace flows should stem from our love for God and neighbor. What are these means of grace, then?
John Wesley, an eighteenth-century theologian and minister, once wrote a sermon about the means of grace. In that sermon he both defines and separates them into two categories: works of piety and works of mercy. According to this theological concept, the means of grace are ways God works in and through us. Wesley states that works of piety can be expressed through prayer, Sunday worship, studying Scripture, and partaking in the sacraments. Works of mercy, on the other hand, can be applied by visiting the sick and imprisoned, serving the needs of the poor, seeking justice, and ending oppression. This list is in no way limited, and most Christian traditions agree that both works of mercy and piety are ways we connect with and express our love toward God and others.
Peter says that we are to “proclaim the mighty acts of Him who called [us] out of darkness into his marvelous light.” Those acts come through God’s free gift of grace and our faith in Jesus Christ; there is nothing we can do to create them. In this, we (even a hesitant sinner like me) are equipped to to love others with the heart of Christ. Through our faith and baptism, the Holy Spirit lives in us and wants to “proclaim mighty acts” of love through us. Let us reach out together -- now, today, this week -- channeling the love of God to the next person we meet.
May God’s peace, blessing, love, and grace permeate our being in all we do. In Jesus Christ we pray, Amen.  
Have a blessed week!
Stan


P.S.
For an excellent three-minute video on the means of grace, which helped inspire this devotion, please click following link: https://goo.gl/8Qx5NY.