Honest to goodness truth: When I walked into church on Sunday and saw the communion table set up, I started to panic. Not because I have an aversion to wafers and juice or dislike the special Sundays when we do observe the Lord’s supper. But because my heart was not in the right place for communion. More like 8,000 miles away from the right place. Clear on the other side of the spectrum of places.
So I sang. And I prayed. And I listened. And I actually forgot all about communion until the end of the service. I went to the table and then back to my seat with the grape-soaked bread still in hand. I sighed. I began to list all of the ways in which I’ve failed as a Christian lately: being too busy for reading my Bible, too distracted for heartfelt prayer, too silent when I should be vocal and too vocal when I should be silent, too blinded by my “needs” to see the needs of others. So I sank into prayer. “Lord, I SO do not deserve to accept communion right now.”
Far be it from me to attribute any thought that pops up in my own head as something God himself speaks to me, but the next thought seemed fairly congruent with something he might say:
“Child, when have you ever deserved it? That’s the point of grace: you can’t earn it.”
Well. That made my head spin a bit.
All of my efforts to work harder at being a better Christian so that I can achieve God’s favor? Futile. Because he already did the hard work on the cross. And because I’ve put my trust in him and in his saving grace, nothing that I do – great or terrible – can alter his love for me.
It’s so contrary to popular belief that I can’t understand it. It literally doesn’t make sense to me. But I’m so thankful for undeserved grace, for the unexpected reminder, and for these verses from Romans 8:
31 What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.