Know 2016: Stories of Grace
Reading through scripture, we see that God loves a good story. The bible contains thousands of stories about God interacting with humanity, revealing his character and nature. Frequently he picks out specific people and especially interacts with them, revealing to them (and us the audience) even more about who he is.
Abraham is one of those specific people. Abraham started out as a guy named Abram, a Sumerian from the city of Ur (Genesis 11). Sumerians, and likely Abraham himself, worshiped a pantheon of other gods. Yet God came specifically to Abraham and told him to pick up everything and move to a new place. God promised Abraham that he would make a great nation of him, and through Abraham God would bless the rest of the world. Those are some hefty promises God made to this random Sumerian. But Abraham took God at his word and believed.
As the story unfolds, we see God make good on his promises. He endured with Abraham and his wife Sarah even when they laughed at his promise to give them a son. Granted, they were both way past child bearing age, having struggled with infertility into their 90s. But despite their laughing, God still gave them a son and said he would bless everyone through this promised child.
This is one of the ways scripture consoles us through stories. God uses imperfect people to accomplish his work in history, and the bible pulls no punches in describing these people, flaws included. The characters of the bible aren’t venerable, perfect heroes. They’re broken people just like us with stories just like us. Abraham’s story is, in a way, our story.
You might not be hearing God speak to you about moving to a new city and birthing a kid in your 90s, but the stories of scripture aren’t meant to exclude us because of God’s unique actions in them. They’re meant to include us with this core truth: God reveals himself to the least likely, the lost, the downcast, and the outright sinners.
And not only does God reveal himself to us; he became us. In Jesus, God came as a human, lived a human life, and the bible assures us that “surely he has borne our griefs” (Isaiah 53:4) and that he “in every respect has been tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). God himself put on a human story and bore all of our stories of brokenness on the cross when he died for our sins. The story of scripture, the story of God’s redemptive work in human history, is our story.
Just like the characters of scripture, God intervenes in our lives even though we’re the least likely, the lost, the downcast, and the outright sinners. He promises to bless us and continually shower grace and kindness on us. Some of the difficulty in seeing God’s work in our lives comes from our proximity to our own stories; often times we have too close of a view of our lives and see things as disparate events rather than pieces of a grand story. In a way, we have to see our lives through new eyes to turn those events into a story. But in every corner of our lives we can find God at work, revealing himself and showering us with grace, if we have the eyes to see it.
Throughout the current sermon series we’re taking time in our community group gatherings to recount these stories of God’s grace. By sharing our stories we can rejoice at how God is at work in each others lives, marvel at how he provides what we need, and mourn with each other when finding God’s grace is difficult. Below you’ll find the discussion guides for our community groups this week. Even if you aren’t in a community group, consider working through these questions this week and using them in conversations with friends.