For Sunday, March 27, 2011
3rd Sunday in Lent
What are a few of your favorite things? For me, here are three: a 1999 Harley Davidson Road Glide, an iMac, and a man cave. What are yours? All of us have a few favorite things that bring real enjoyment into our lives. Yet at the end of the day we know these are just things. They don’t have any lasting meaning in and of themselves. So while they bring a fleeting enjoyment, what they don’t bring and can’t bring is true and enduring peace and joy. What can?
The answer is the topic of this week’s New Testament reading, Romans 5:1-11. What can and will bring true and enduring peace and joy to our lives is simply this: peace with God. This is precisely what Christians possess. “. . . since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand” (Rom. 5:1).
Granted, there is a lot in this verse, so let’s unpack it. First, note that “we have been justified.” To be justified means to be pronounced righteous. Second, note how we have been justified: “through faith.” We aren’t justified on the basis of our conduct but on the basis of our faith in Jesus Christ. This is picking up on what is stated in the prior verse: “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification” (Rom. 4:25). Third, note the result of this faith commitment: we are now standing in grace. ‘Grace’ means “favor” or “gift”. Christians stand in God’s favor, not because we deserve it, but rather because of God’s gift of love to us.
Have you found lasting and enduring peace and joy? If not, stop looking for it in your stuff. You have in you a God-shaped void that not even an iPad 2 is going to fill. What will fill the void is peace with God and God is offering it to you right now. Will you receive it?