I was privileged to be a delegate to the World Methodist Conference in Brighton, England in 2001. There I was introduced to many Methodist leaders from around the world. I particularly remember a young native Kenyan woman whose keynote address I reflect upon every time I see the notes in the margins of my Bible that I took the day she gave it. Grace Imathiu was raised in the time of the European conquest of Africa. She told many stories of how people unfamiliar with her culture would try to tell her family what was best for them. Colonialists, be they politicians, businessmen or missionaries, seemed compelled to bring the “savages” up to speed. Within this framework, Grace became a student of the Bible. Her grandfather was schooled by missionaries and began a legacy of ministry which has now encompassed three generations since she entered pastoral ministry.
Grace spoke about the “but now” of Scripture from Romans 3:24. Thousands in attendance at the World Methodist Conference were blessed as she impressed on us how critical these two words were in Scripture. They alert us that a change has occurred, that things aren’t the way that they were. Grace said the “but now” frees us from our history. It tells us the past is no longer in effect. It cannot be our judge, or our standard or even our life map anymore because something new has come and changed all the rules.
In Romans 3 Paul was telling the church that in the past there were two classes of people: Jew and Gentile. The Jews had one set of rules. The Gentiles had another, but when you get to verse 24 he says, “But now, we are all judged the same…through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.” Paul elaborates in verse 29, “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles only? Yes, of the Gentiles, also.” Jews are not privileged, says Paul. They have no good reason to believe they are superior to Gentiles. Christ has changed all that.
Today as I was going over Colossians 1, I couldn’t help but smile as I shouted out loud verse 22 “But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation” and verse 26 “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people.”
This Monday of Lent I am sharing with my Multitudes on Mondays community about being “but now” people. He died for us. He rose for us. His blood saves us. We live forgiven of our sin, beyond the judgment. We live in the “but now” freedom of His grace. We live in the palm of His hand. And I am truly thankful:
#79 that His mercy and grace makes me able to say, “but now”
#80 that Shelly’s eyes are healing
#81 for my husband’s brother who stayed with my husband this whole past week after their mother’s death and was a real comfort to us all
#82 for friends who really care: at church, at work, in cyberspace, in the everydayedness of things
#83 for friends who you never hear from until you are in trouble–then they are there, seemingly coming from thin air
#84 for lessons learned on how to comfort
#85 for the perspective of time
#86 for the Word made flesh
#87 for being paid for work that I love
#88 for the few of you who read these words and share your hearts with me
#89 for wonderful children and their families who contribute to the world and live to lead others to Him
I must make lunch,
God bless you!