Pastor John Elmore, Jr.
Balance: A hard thing to hold on to
A couple of weeks ago, I planned a weekend off from my preaching responsibilities. I took the opportunity to go visit a friend in Georgia and hunt some. I am seeking to keep a better balance with my ministry and my personal life. My friend invited me to attend church with him and his wife on Sunday morning. I was looking forward to it. I knew a lot of the people and it was going to be very different from our worship services across our St. Mark campuses. That morning as we entered the church, we were greeted warmly. It was an enjoyable time seeing those people again. I thought to myself, "This is going to be a good day of worshiping our Lord with some old friends."
The pastor started his sermon from Acts 1:1-11. I thought to myself, "I know where this is going." Act 1:8, "you will be my witnesses in..." It was not long before I realized I was wrong, the pastor had thrown me a curve ball. The pastor was talking about our need to repent, to repent of our sins. I must admit, I tuned the pastor out for a few minutes as I reread the Bible passage. I quickly saw how the pastor had moved from the passage to the idea of our need to repent. While I don't think I would have focused on that part of the passage, that is not what I was thinking about. I kept hearing the pastor use the word "repent;" we need to repent, repenting is an ongoing process, you should repent, repent, and repent. I have preached those sermons. I still preach those sermons. I was wondering in my own mind, "Where was the balance?" Throughout life, scripture, and faith, there are tensions between things, and the proper amount of tension creates balance. That balance is necessary for us to have proper understanding or to help things function and move forward. Many times in life, we lose the balance between faith, family and work; in love, the balance to show sacrificial love to our spouse versus sometimes choosing self. When we look at scripture, there is the balance between man's free will and what God has predestined.
The piece I was hearing as I sat in worship was, "Where was the balance?" I know every person needs to repent, Jesus said in Matthew 4:17, "repent for the Kingdom of God is near." I was wondering where was Grace? Repentance without God's grace through the sacrifice of Jesus is empty. Grace without our repentance is a gift of God's love we have not claimed or opened. I am sure the pastor was not saying it is all about what an individual does, repent, but I just didn't hear him say otherwise. God has paid the price of your sin and provided you Grace. I was saying to myself that we need both. We need the Grace to go along with our repentance. Jesus said to the disciples that last night before he would head to the cross, "this is my body, this is my blood broken and shed for you.." Grace. Do I want each of us to repent, to ask God to forgive our sins? Yes! Keep in mind that before that God provided balance through Jesus and His Grace. I hope that you might walk with balance by accepting Grace from our Lord and repent where you need to, turn to God, and walk in His love.