The Grace of Sun and Rain
Written By: Chris Mace
As this storm blows across the Camden hills and down Penobscot Bay, rain will fall indiscriminately on those in its path, a reminder of a statement Christ made in his inaugural sermon: “God makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and the unjust.” (Matthew 5-7)
Without context, that thought may sound uncaring, calculating, or even presumptuous. However in its context, Jesus’ words are a snippet from a beautiful message on God’s nature and how one can live righteously with love for God and grace toward all. His comments about rain and sun refer to God’s common grace. We all benefit from the sun’s light and warmth and are refreshed and nourished by rain. Without them earth would not produce fruits.
Similarly, God is an equal opportunity God. He offers redemption to all peoples. Every one, “good” or evil, needs God’s saving mercy because we all have moral failures of thought, attitude and behaviors. Unless one chooses to be, nobody is outside the bounds of God’s redemptive grace which transforms broken, self centered natures and minds into images of God.
That begs the question of what we should be like? What is God like? Jesus taught that the Law helps explain the just and holy nature of God and His requirements for our holiness. The Moral Law is about reverencing and loving God with all one’s being; it’s about character development and about placing the interests of others before one’s own. Some perceive this moral code as being restrictive while, in truth, it’s only restrictions are the fulfillments of authentic love! When the Law’s foundational purposes are understood, God’s principles for living explain the importance of God in life, how to avoid trouble, how to respond to hurt and mistreatment without acting in vengeance or bitterness, how to forgive and not return evil with evil but with good, how to bless and to pray for enemies and not curse them, and how to live humbly in God’s image. (Matthew 5-7)
Jesus explained that the “Thou shalt not(s)” in the Law lead to healthy relationships. The moral code is not about self righteous, exemplary behavior through rule keeping. That concept leads to self congratulatory arrogance. The Law shows us who we are or are not; it humbles us before God’s holiness and shines a light on our weaknesses, on our inability to be morally pure, and on our need for forgiveness. It directs us to Christ, who as a perfect sacrifice paid the penalty for our transgressions because he loves all souls even praying for forgiveness for powerful adversaries who perpetrated the evil of murdering him.
If “God is love” and if we are to be like God, we must live the incarnational, humble,and sacrificial life of Christ, who showed the meaning of love and compassion, how to live prayerfully in obedience to God’s purposes, how to put others first, how to forgive deep hurts and to nurture or to turn around difficult relationships,
To be like God requires living the grace of sun and rain, living intentionally with integrity and charity and as a blessing to all others.