The tune is from Casting Crowns. I am amazed at the power of music and lyric to move my heart and soul. One or two lyrical thoughts can have more impact than a beautifully written article or book. The song “Jesus, Friend of Sinners” has a number of those powerful lyrics.
Jesus Friend of sinners we have strayed so far away
We cut down people in your name but the sword was never ours to swing
Ouch. How much damage has been done in the name of Christ by well-meaning or by just mean churchgoers? The toll is heartbreaking. Truly that sword was never ours to wield. The next few lines are just as powerful.
Jesus friend of sinners the truth's become so hard to see
The world is on their way to You but they're tripping over me
Nothing breaks my heart more than the thought that seekers of truth are tripping over me. I fear that my need to look good and righteous will disguise my desperate need for grace. I write a lot about grace. I get criticized by some for my fixation (in their opinion) on grace. But I believe that the single most important distinctive of Christianity is grace. That the Gospel is not what I can do for God but what He has done for me.
Jackie DeShannon sang that what the world needs most is love sweet, love. That is true with an addendum. What the worlds needs most is love sweet love…and grace. I can never live a life that is so perfectly good that people will see Jesus. But I can live a life that is honest, full of grace, love and kindness and from that life they might see Him. The tweet that added to my meditation today came from author Tim Keller. It perfectly summarized what God is doing in my heart.
The deeper the experience of the free grace of God, the more generous we must become.
So as I write about grace and begin to understand the miracle of grace I should begin to demonstrate what grace looks like to a hurting world. If I am receiving grace I must also give it. If I welcome the generous gift of grace I must become more generous. If I accept the gift of forgiveness I must forgive. If I marvel at God’s unfailing love I must also love others. That is what the doubting world is looking for from the church. Grace, forgiveness and love.
Instead we too often offer judgment, separation, division and even hate.
As Jesus faced the horror of the Cross He offered this command to His disciples.
So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples. (John 14, NLT)
I ask myself as I write these words. Does my love prove that I am a follower of Jesus? Does my heart reveal that I comprehend the magnitude of His grace? Living out of grace is not a tiring burden. It is a joyous response of gratitude.
Oh Jesus friend of sinners
Open our eyes to the world at the end of our pointing fingers
Let our hearts be led by mercy
Help us reach with open hearts and open doors
Oh Jesus friend of sinners break our hearts for what breaks yours
Praying that the Holy Spirit will break my heart for the things that breaks the heart of Jesus is a scary prayer. But that is the only honest response to God’s amazing grace.