Monday, September 21, 2015

Grace

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”-- John 16:33,NIV

Earlier this month I attended a Mental Health Conference which featured a presentation by Timothy Jennings, a psychiatrist who studies the influence of various factors—diet, exercise, stress--on depression.  A lot of what he said was way over my head, but these two statements got my attention: “Religion based on fear damages the brain.  Religion based on love is healing to the brain.”

Now I certainly cannot follow all the research that led Jennings to that conclusion, but as a Christian believer, his findings make sense to me.  This got to thinking how our view of God impacts our thinking, our mental health, and our subsequent actions.

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Rowan County, Kentucky, has stated that issuing marriages licenses to gay couples is a violation of God’s authority and her conscience as an Apostolic Christian.  She believes that doing this will assure that God will send her to hell to burn for eternity.  Evidently Davis’ conversion to this particular church has given her a sense of forgiveness from past sins, but I wish that she could come to know the God of love who is more concerned about the poor, the orphaned, and the marginalized than about sex.  Her view of God must be a terrible burden to bear.

In recent days I learned that a colleague I had worked with in the past had committed suicide after being exposed as a participant in an adult website. He was a good man who blessed the lives of many, but family and friends say that he had struggled with depression for years.  At the end, he evidently felt that his Christian brothers and sisters would not be able to accept him after hearing about his action.  Did his view of God become a burden for him?

Which God does Kim Davis worship and which God did my friend perceive?  Do we serve a God of fear or a God of love?  I believe that scripture teaches us that God’s grace is sufficient to cover all of our transgressions and to motivate us to serve others in the power of that love.

In a letter to the Corinthian church, Paul wrote, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  2 Corinthians 12:9, NIV

There is no doubt that we are weak, but belief in a God who loves and supports gives us the ability to deal with our weaknesses and rest in God’s mercy.

Does sin has consequences? Yes, and it is clear that all err, harming themselves and others.  But we serve a God of love who wants us to be healthy and whole.  This is the message that we have been called to share.

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