A Word from Pastor Jen
When the Dog Bites. Yes, my sweet, little, munchkin dog bit me. You might ask why? Well, Toby is a willful little guy. When we’re out walking and he doesn’t want to go where I lead him, he plants all four feet and gives me the look. This doesn’t often work since I outweigh him by a good 120 lbs. Toby is also a creature of comfort. He likes cushy pillows and curling up in soft blankets. The incident occurred one Sunday morning a few years ago. Toby was curled up nice and cozy in my cushy brown blanket when I had the nerve to interrupt his sleep for his morning duties. He expressed his disapproval by biting my thumb. After a moment of corrective action, Toby capitulated and tended to his duties.
I tell this story, because it is a metaphor of how we react to God. In Methodist tradition we see God’s activity in three stages. The first is prevenient grace – Salvation is God’s initiative. We do not have to beg and plead for God’s love and grace. God actively seeks us! The second is justifying grace. This is the moment when we accept God’s grace offered in Jesus Christ. Through Christ we are justified or made right with God – redeemed and forgiven. The last is sanctifying grace. This act of grace is the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us. God created humanity in the divine image. When Adam and Eve sinned that image became distorted. Sanctifying grace is the work of God’s Spirit to restore and renew us. For God’s work to be fully realized, we have to cooperate – surrender to God’s will and work in our lives.
But, sometimes we are like Toby. We plant all fours (or all twos), unwilling to go where God leads us. Or, we’re nice and cozy in our less than godly behaviors and attitudes that when God’s Spirit challenges us, we get snarky. Those who call upon the Lord will be saved. This is true, but there is so much more to being a follower of Jesus Christ. God wants to change us – to restore the divine image in us and use us to transform our world. This sounds like a mighty big task, but changing the world is possible one person at a time. It starts with you and me and works outward. So, when God pulls and nudges you, don’t bite, yield to it and see what God can do. Grace and peace.