– Julie Stecker
As our world worried about what would happen when the calendar changed from 1999 to 2000, I was smack dab in the middle of my junior high experience, worrying about what role I’d get in the school play, whether my outfit was cute enough, and if I’d accumulated enough gel pens for the popular girls to deem me a valuable asset to their friend group. I was always worried about what I could do to make people like me more, to have greater worth in the eyes of my peers.
This deeply affected the way I viewed my relationship with God. It must be transactional, I thought, since this was how I understood relationships. If I was “good,” then God would bless me with friends, good grades, and the cool stuff I wanted. If I was “bad,” God would take all of that away as punishment. I tried to be the best at everything, just so I wouldn’t chance falling out of God’s favor. This was exhausting. And, I learned along the way, that’s not how God’s love works.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.” You have been saved. This is not your own doing. This is the good news that changes everything, friends. Long, long ago, before we were even thought of, God saved us. We didn’t (and still don’t!) have to do anything to earn it. Yes, we “do” things like serving our neighbors and trying to live a compassionate, grace-filled life in response to this great gift. But just as surely as we will mess up, God will be there with grace, love, and mercy, reminding us that Jesus has already done the work of saving us. Nothing can change that, but God’s love can absolutely change us – from people who work to earn God’s love to people who work to show God’s love. I can’t wait to see how we show God’s love in Houston in 2018!
Julie Stecker is currently the Director of Communications at the Delaware-Maryland Synod.