Is Jesus your Friend?1
This past Sunday at SOMA's weekend worship service we had a ‘Hay Day’ service. Actually it was the culmination of a ‘Hay Day’ weekend activity for our kids. On Friday evening and Saturday morning, kids and their adult leaders sang songs, participated in craft projects and fun games, and shared in Bible teaching. In one lesson they learned about Zachhaeus, a tax collector. Zachhaeus sat in a tree so he could see Jesus! Jesus invited Himself to Zachhaeus’ house so they might spend time together. After the lesson the children called Zacchaeus “a bad man, a cheat, and a bully,” but Zachhaeus changed after spending time with Jesus. The children learned that Jesus loved him and that Zacchaeus received grace from Jesus and his life was changed. The children learned that Zachhaeus became a friend of Jesus. A theme they learned at ‘Hay Day’ was “Jesus always loves us – He’s my Friend!” The children also learned that Jesus longs for us to be in fellowship with Him and grow through spending time in His word, and in prayer, in singing praises to Him, and by being in fellowship with other believers.
How many of us live our lives based on these truths? There are “bad” people that we know – some who lie, some who cheat, and some who do terrible things to us. We need to remember that Jesus extended His grace that we might be saved (afterall we are all "bad" people before our Holy God!). Since we believe this is true, why then do we withhold grace from others? The Bible says in 2 Timothy 2:1 “You then, my child, be strengthened by the grace that is in Christ Jesus” (ESV). Can we legitimately call ourselves Followers of Jesus Christ and not extend grace (unmerited favor) to others – some even family? Is what has been done to you more than what was done to Jesus? We are strengthened by grace when we understand God’s unconditional grace and His acceptance of us and His forgiveness, and then unconditionally extend grace, acceptance, and forgiveness to others.
If we do not extend grace Hebrews 12:15 says: “see to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.” I’m not sure about you, but holding a grudge is a lot of effort with absolutely no benefit, so I have decided to not live that way.
Think about it… if you do not strengthen yourself by God’s grace, and do not extend grace towards others, you are setting yourself up for trouble. You will be in pain and the other person(s) conceivably will not be impacted. Not giving grace to another is doing what Jesus did not do to you. Was He wrong or are you?