What makes you, you? It is amazing how different we are. Different ages, accents, personalities, preferences, values, ethnicities, families, hometowns, upbringings, abilities, hobbies… I could go on. But if you could narrow down all these things into one defining attribute, what would that be? With all the complexities of who you are, what matters most? What overriding characteristic drives your habits, your lifestyle, your self-perception? This question is one of identity, and one of the most important questions we will ever hear.
Looking back at my life so far, hopefully not quite yet at the halftime mark, some distinguishing marks of my life are that I’m a husband, father, pastor, native Texan, and resident of Florida. But there is one obvious foundation of my identity today: God’s grace. It is my comfort in the midst of sorrow- such as enduring the death of my son. It is the hope that compels me to work hard today and look forward to a brighter tomorrow. It is the peace, knowing that though I have said, thought, and done so many hurtful things towards God and others, I have forgiveness. If I were to not know the grace of God, all of this would be lost- no comfort, no hope, no peace, no purpose- I would be totally self-oriented, and completely empty.
What is the grace of God? It is that Jesus Christ received the punishment for my sin, setting me free from the penalty I deserve: death and damnation. It is completely, 100% unfair. Nothing I have ever done or ever could do has made me in any way deserving of God’s compassion. Yet it is everything to me. I would be a totally different person without it. How about you?
We don’t think about the transformation, the difference Christ makes in our lives nearly enough. This weekend we are going to look at Paul, one of the most famous and influential Christians at all-time, before, during, and after he encountered the grace of God. We will see God’s grace in every verse, in every way, in a manner that will help us see ourselves clearly today.
I invite you to join with us this weekend as we study Acts 9:1-31 together. Our socially distanced service is Saturday afternoon at 3:30, and our Sunday morning service is at 10:15, where you can join us online if you can’t make it in person. We also have excellent Sunday School classes at 9 for all ages.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to pursuing Christ, Community, and the Great Commission Together with you soon!
-Pastor Nathan Rice