Offer Them Christ
The Weblog Of J.F. Howard

A Mission And Message Of Grace

One Sunday after church the mother of a shy elementary school student asked if her daughter could ask me some questions for a school assignment. I told her I would be delighted to answer her questions and invited the whole family into my office.

The mother explained that her daughter’s teacher had assigned each student to go to church and ask the pastor a series of questions. The students were to record the answers and write them up as their assignment.

Still a little shy to ask me herself, the young girl’s mom went through the list. The questions included:

“How long have you been a pastor?”

“What do you like to do best in ministry?”

“What do you like to do the least in ministry?”

But my favorite question was “What is your favorite Bible verse and why?”

My first response was “Wow! To ask a preacher to name one favorite Bible verse is a tough assignment indeed!”

My favorite Bible verse depends on the day of the week and the frame of mind I am in at the time!

But then it hit me…I really do have one central, over arching verse that defines both my identity as a follower of Jesus Christ, and my calling as a local church pastor.

So I said to the mother, daughter, and father, “My favorite Bible verse is Acts 20:34. Let me read it to you from the Bible.”

I picked up my Bible and read these words:

But nothing, not even my life, is more important than my completing my mission. This is nothing other than the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus: to testify about the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:34, Common English Bible).

In a short amount of time I attempted to explain those words to the young elementary school girl and her parents. I told them that I am a person under the direction of a mission—a calling upon my life. I did not seek this mission. It sought me out. I did not ask for this mission. It chose me (see John 15:16). There are low times in my life when I ask God to let me out of this mission (God consistently says “no.”). Each day when I awake I feel the weight of that mission on my life. It is why I am who I am. I told the young family that the words of the Apostle Paul in Acts 20 are the same words I have stamped in my spirit, “This is nothing other than the ministry I received from the Lord Jesus: to testify about the good news of God’s grace” (Acts 20:34b).

I am called to tell others about the good news of God’s grace. It is my mission in life. It is what fills my tank. It is what motivates me. It is why I do what I do.

The familiar old hymn “Amazing Grace” captures the heart of this mission. God’s grace is amazing. God freely gives me grace through Jesus Christ. Like all gifts, I can only receive it with gratitude. Nothing I could ever do could repay God’s gift of grace in my life. Even if I could repay it, it would not longer be a gift of grace. I accept this grace and commit myself to spend my life on earth telling others the good news of God’s grace.

I do not know if the young elementary school girl will even remember our conversation that day after church, but I will. It was one more opportunity for me to do what I was called and sent in mission to do: “to testify about the good news of God’s grace.”

I heard Pastor Erwin Lutzer say once, “There is more grace in God’s heart than there is sin in your past.”

Author and pastor Max Lucado once wrote:

“There are many reasons God saves you: to bring glory to himself, to appease his justice, to demonstrate his sovereignty. But one of the sweetest reasons God saved you is because he is fond of you. He likes having you around. He thinks you are the best thing to come down the pike in quite a while…. If God had a refrigerator, your picture would be on it. If he had a wallet, your photo would be in it. He sends you flowers every spring and a sunrise every morning. Whenever you want to talk, he’ll listen. He can live anywhere in the universe, and he chose your heart. And the Christmas gift he sent you in Bethlehem? Face it, friend. He’s crazy about you!”

{Max Lucado, A Gentle Thunder, Word, 1995}

That is surely a message and a mission for which I can give my life. How about you?

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