Wednesday, January 01, 2003
Second Sunday after Epiphany, Year A
January 19, 2003
Jim Killen, a minister of the United Methodist Church, Beaumont, Texas
Do you know the expression, "prevenient grace"? It's O.K. if you don't know the words, but you really need to know the reality that they represent. Prevenient grace is the expression theologians use to talk about God working in our lives for our salvation before we know anything about it or do anything to cause it to happen. Some folks keep saying, "If you will do this, this and this, then God will come into your life and save you." The truth is that God is always reaching out to us and working in our lives to move us toward the fulfillment of our highest possibilities. The trick is for us to recognize what God is doing in our lives and to be receptive and responsive to it.
I. The Scriptures give us many examples of how God works in our lives to save us.
The psalmist who wrote
The story of little Samuel and old Eli tells us that God has a purpose for our lives and for our world. The text tells us that this story took place during a time when people weren't seeing much divine activity -- or expecting it. Old Eli was a good man and a faithful servant of God, but his sons were completely corrupt. God was working in the subtle ways that God often works in the affairs of people to put an end to their abuse of power. And God was also working to bring something better into being to replace it. He picked young Samuel to be a prophet who would be God's agent for the beginning of a new age in Israel's history. God called and, with Eli's help, Samuel responded.
In the New Testament, John tells us that Jesus surprised Nathaniel by knowing about him and believing in him before Nathaniel had ever paid any attention to Jesus. That relationship eventually grew into a very important one that changed Nathaniel's life and caused him to be used him to change the world.