It’s a simple formula, really and one that we’re mostly familiar with. We may not think about it all the time but it isn’t exactly news. We’re saved by grace through our faith. It is the linchpin of Lutheran theology, it is the foundation for how we see our relationship with God.
The struggle that we have is figuring out what we mean by saved by grace through faith. It’s easy to say the words. It is fairly easy to remember the words. It’s maybe a little more difficult to remember to think about the words. But coming up with what they mean to us is a little more challenging.
So I asked for some help. Kiana and Grace are confirmation students who did some work on this with their class a few weeks back. They have some pretty good insights on what being saved by grace through faith actually means.
What comes to mind about that confirmation session (what do you remember as important)?
What are some things that you think about when you think about being saved?
Where do you experience God’s grace in your life?
Where do you see people living out their faith?
Did thinking about being saved by grace through faith give you any new ideas?
We should be thinking about being saved by grace through faith every moment of every day and falling on our knees in gratitude because of it. Seriously, we should. Oh, I don’t mean literally falling on our knees. Nothing wrong with getting on our knees before God. We do it when we are confirmed. We do it when we are ordained. We sometimes do it when we pray. But falling on our knees is more of a mindset than a physical action. Kind of like last week when we heard about the early church arguing about who was in and who was out of the kingdom. The physical actions are great and can be good practice but are not required to be people of God. The physical actions are great and can be good practice but they are not how our relationship with God is defined.
Our relationship with God is defined by gratitude for the gift of being saved by grace through faith. We demonstrate that gratitude with our mindset of submission to God’s will for our lives. We demonstrate that gratitude with our mindset of recognizing God is in charge. What? I must submit to God? God’s in charge? Wait a minute, I want to be in charge… Anyone have thoughts like that? It’s okay if you do. When I was writing this up I initially typed ‘… our mindset of letting God be in charge’. Ha! Like WE let God be anything. The truth is God just puts up with us until we finally get it together and recognize that God has it handled. It does underscore how easy it is to confuse who is in charge.
One of the great things about being saved by grace through faith is that by definition you can do nothing to earn it. Which of course begs the oft asked question, “Why bother doing anything if it doesn’t get me in good with God?” The usual answer to that is our good actions are our response of gratitude to God for the blessings we have received. At that usually means we go out and do good things like serving our neighbor. That’s true and fair enough but this week I’m thinking more along the lines of submitting to God as our response to God’s gift of saving us by grace through faith.
We’re usually happy to respond in service but what if in addition to serving our neighbor we expressed our gratitude by submiting to God’s direction for our lives. The scarier question is, “If I recognized that it is God that is in charge, would anything change in my lives?” and if so, why haven’t we changed it already? What is keeping us from changing it? Why aren’t we listening to God?
It’s the age old problem of the Old Adam, the disobedient one that humans have struggled with from day one, person one. We don’t want to do what God asks us to do. So we don’t. And it ends up badly for us. We turn back to God, asking for help and forgiveness. Things get back to normal and we kind of put God on the back burner and do things our way. Until it ends badly for us so we turn back to God, asking for help and forgiveness. So the cycle goes, over and over and over.
Maybe it is time to give some thought to letting go and letting God. Letting go of our insistence that we are in charge and we know what’s best. Letting go of our destructive desires. Letting go of all the weight and burden we carry around thanks to sin, weight and burden that God has already released us from. Because, we are after all, saved by grace through faith.