Daily Devotion for June 13, 2020

Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.  (Romans 5:1-5)

The theological concept of “justification” is of utmost importance in Wesleyan theology, yet most United Methodists aren’t clear on what it means.  Essentially, it means that God recognized that you and I will never be able to live purely and cleanly in covenant, that we will fail to keep the Commandments, that our best intentions will always fall short, and that all human beings on earth sin; so God’s Son Jesus shifted the paradigm and became the conduit for God’s unmerited grace and unconditional love for all who follow Christ.  Paul’s theology is most fully presented in Romans.  In God’s eyes, we are all equal, all beloved, all redeemable, and all acceptable – not through our works because we cannot earn God’s love and forgiveness – but justified in God’s heart and mind by our faith in Jesus Christ.

This is amazing.  Many people struggle with this (perhaps not because they themselves are forgiven and loved, but because others whom they dislike or disagree with are forgiven and loved…) since it defies all human logic and experience.  We are more comfortable with Hammurabi-like codes of retribution (an eye for an eye…) than we are with unconditional love and forgiveness.

But haven’t recent events in the United States clearly shown that retribution and violent enforcement of our laws are evidence of our fallenness, not our ability to live justly, fairly, and peacefully?  In a very real sense, we are “unjustified” – placing our trust in human institutions that do not reflect our faith or core values.  Perhaps now more than ever, we need to open ourselves to God’s unmerited grace and unconditional love as the new standard and goal of all our engagements.

Prayer: God, it is clear we cannot be the people we need to be on our own.  No matter how hard we try, how good our intentions are, how much we talk about improvement and change, we are stuck in the same cycles of brokenness.  Forgive us.  Redeem us.  Transform us.  And let us begin to live in the justifying grace that you alone can give.  We ask this humbly in the name of Jesus the Christ.  Amen.