Something Worth Mourning and Rejoicing Together

Driver FamilyBY: John Driver

E-MAIL ADDRESS: john@lifeassembly.com

BIBLE TEXT:     Romans 5:1-2‬ ‭NASB: “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.”

‭‭PERSONAL REFLECTION: As most of you already know, my beloved father passed from this life to the next several weeks ago. Your outpouring of love and support has been absolutely incredible and we are so appreciative to each and every one of you.

Romans 15:15 (NIV) reminds us to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” So during this time we feel sadness and loss… but we most definitely do not feel it alone. We feel it together — every prayer lifted up for one another, every meal made for one another, every encouraging word shared with one another. Christ wants us to share life’s rejoicing together, as well as the weeping that life sometimes brings.

My dad was a pastor and a teacher which are the two things I grew up to become as well. Because of this you would think that we would agree on everything, but the truth is when it came to the way we thought about church and even aspects of our faith we often were on different pages. The same book… just different pages. Then about two years ago all that changed. It wasn’t because of any particular book, speaker, or experience. It was God initiated. It happened to both of us but it happened to my dad first. Somewhere along the line we were both awakened to a new perspective of God’s grace. At first I was resistant to what Dad was trying tell me because, as he had told me over the years, I already knew everything. But when I opened up my mind and listened and realized what a Pharisee I had inadvertently been for so long grace began transforming my very heart.

You see, the message of Jesus is supposed to be simple but we make it so complicated. If my dad were here he would tell you that the real gospel of grace says that Jesus died to forgive all your sins—past, present, and future. He would tell you that if your version of Christianity is more like a self-improvement plan where either in constant guilt or in constant pride you apply the principles of faith to your life and work harder and harder on your own to simply become a “better person,” then you are missing Christ’s best and fullest intentions for you.

 PERSONAL APPLICATION:   Real grace is a lot like my dad—extreme. It is a full life that empties you of everything else. God never intended for our journey with him to be half empty or half full. And trying harder, working harder, or studying harder is not the key to the whole thing. If your efforts can produce miraculous life change, what is so amazing about grace? Why do we need Jesus at all? You see, for the past year and a half or so, my dad and I shared this incredible transformation together, talking for hours on end and sometimes even shedding tears when we considered all that the real grace of God has been working in our lives. We were transformed by grace, not by our own efforts… even the religious ones. We learned that where you put your confidence concerning your faith in God is the key to everything.

In the end, my dad’s confidence was positioned in one solitary place: the grace of God… not in his love for God, but God’s love for him.

PRAYER: Father, there are times in life when we mourn, but even in these moments you have promised us Your peace. How grateful we are that you are never far away and for the incredible plan you have written us into, which invites us to share every moment of our lives together as Your body. May the real, rightly ordered, biblical message of Your grace be fully released in our lives and not bound by our own traditions, impressions, or personal inclinations. May we be spurred on by other champions of faith who have trusted fully in Your love for them, for that is the essence of the transformative message of Christ. You are a good Father and we believe You. Amen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

First and foremost, I am unapologetically a gracemonger and a recovering Pharisee. A husband to Laura, and daddy to Sadie, a dog owner to Brutus, a friend to the best church staff in the world, a teaching pastor, a writer of books for some incredible friends I don’t deserve to partner with, a thorn in the side of arrogant Alabama fans everywhere (even though they actually have something to brag about… and you know who you are), an alumnus to the University of Tennessee, a grumpy recipient of junk mailers everywhere (both hard copy and digital), an enthusiastic driver to my 20-year old Toyota T-100 pickup truck affectionately named Gracie, and an experienced operator to my 33cc RedMax weedeater.

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