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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | Acts 4:5–12 

The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders; it has become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.” (NRSV)

Peter and John proclaimed to those who imprisoned them that Jesus Christ was the very one they had rejected: “But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One” (Acts 3:14) and “This Jesus is ‘the stone that was rejected by you’” (Acts 4:11).

Without the freedom to reject God or another person, we cannot freely love them. Gerald May, in his book Addiction and Grace wrote,

If we are truly meant to have a free capacity to choose for or against God, if that is really the perfection of God’s creative love for us, then the choices we make must be responses to invitations, not coercions, manipulations, or orders. God, in love, protects our freedom by calling to us, not demanding of us. God’s invitations may be dramatic and strong, or still and small, but anything more than invitation will not protect our freedom and potential for love. God will not be a puppet master over humanity. . . . God’s activity with persons is not controlling. Without exception, God preserves and protects our precious edge of human freedom. . . . God calls us, invites us, and even commands us, but God does not control our response. We alone bear responsibility for the choices we make.

St. Augustine of Hippo said, “Thou, O Lord, hast made us for thyself, and our hearts are restless until they find their rest in thee.” We are created with a deep yearning that only God can fill. We often try to fill that yearning with other things. But our rejection is the price God is willing to pay for the possibility of our freely choosing to love God.

God of grace, thank you for freely giving your love and for inviting me to love you back. Deepen my desire to love and serve you above all else. Amen.

Written by Victoria G. Curtiss, Associate Pastor for Mission

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