"For by grace you have been saved, through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest anyone should boast." Ephesians 2:8&9
Today marks the fiftieth anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech. It was a powerful speech then and remains one today. I remember hearing it on the news as a child. I also well remember watching the changes this great man brought to society, and the horror of his assassination. They were tumultuous times, not unlike what we are experiencing today. Although there aren't many place where discrimination is still a huge problem, and riots are not commonplace, there are still glaring similarities. One group or another decides they need greater rights and the push and shove begins, all done in the name of equality.
It makes my heart sad. I wonder how Dr. King would feel about America today. Certainly the dream he was speaking of was a much needed change in society. But have all the changes which have come about been those he would favor? He spoke of people being judged on their character and not the color of their skin. A very positive and noble request.
Judged by character. What a thought. Not because of how one looks, or what they wear, or what there preferences may be, but rather the character of the person. The interior makeup of the individual for who they are and how they respond to life. A person's nature, temper, make-up, the quality of their disposition, a distinctive attribute that shows their outlook and attitude.
It is not a new request.
Even in the days when Jesus walked on earth people were being judged. Hebrew law made it very clear how a person was expected to live, and there were eyes watching to be sure the law was obeyed. That's why Jesus's teaching was so radical. It wasn't about obeying the laws that made one acceptable to God, but rather grace, the unmerited, unearned favor of God given through the sacrificial life of Jesus.
Jesus set the example of God's character through His obedience. He continually invites us to take on that same character through our obedience. In and of ourselves we are powerless to live perfect lives, but because of Jesus Christ we can live better lives. We can choose to live in righteousness and love as we have been loved. It's a daily choice to put off the "old man" and put on the new. (Colossians 3:10-15) It's impossible without the empowerment of the Holy Spirit who God sent to help us. As obedient children we are able live wholesome lives in hope as we follow God's lead. "Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through or Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into the grace in which we stand and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance, and perseverance, character, and character hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts but the Holy Spirit who has be given to us. For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us." Romans 5:1-8
Now that's news worth sharing.