David describes God like this: “But you, O Lord, are a God of compassion and mercy, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness” (Psalm 86:15). Likewise, Jonah similarly describes God. “You are a merciful and compassionate God, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Jonah 4:2).
Interestingly, these two Old Testament people both describe God as gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in love. We can easily see that Jesus was compassionate, but sometimes as modern-day Christians, we aren’t quite so sure about God.
In Old Testament times the culture was violent. Victory over warring armies was seen as God’s protection from those who threaten to wipe them out as a nation. God spoke to them in ways they understood. We miss indications of grace. Like this from Exodus which doesn’t sound a bit like grace: “But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise” (Exodus 21:23-25). In ancient Eastern culture it was common for people to retaliate tenfold, God told his people they were to retaliate only once. And this was how they began to understand grace.
Another indication of grace is that the Israelites never complain about the numerous sacrificial offerings they were required to make. They complained about a lot of other things, but not about this because compared to the pagan gods of the neighbouring nations, Israel’s God was easy to please. Yet ultimately the Israelites didn’t please God. Living to please a God of grace is surprisingly difficult because it places us in the position of being recipients. Acknowledging we are the beneficiaries of unmerited grace, grates against our pride, independence and self-sufficiency.
When we share communion we’re acknowledging that we’re the beneficiaries of unmerited grace, amazing grace, abundant grace. We please God when we accept his grace. There’s nothing we can do to make God love us more, and there’s nothing we can do that would make him love us less.
Let’s Pray …
Thank you Lord for the bread, which reminds us of your body broken for us, so that we can be free of sin and guilt. We acknowledge that we are the beneficiaries of your unmerited grace. We have done nothing and can do nothing, to earn your grace. We humbly accept all you have done for us.
Thank you Lord for the cup, which reminds us of your shed blood. Thank you Lord you not only came to forgive us our sins but also to free us from its power. Thank you Lord that by your Spirit we’re enabled to live free from condemnation, regret and the burden of duty.
In Jesus’ name,
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