From the earliest days of the church, Christians proclaimed that “Jesus is the Lord”. With these words they confirmed their belief that, when Jesus ascended into heaven, He became Lord of heaven and earth and King of His church. In the preceding verses, Paul had indicated that salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ alone. The Jewish people maintained that salvation came through obedience to the law, while Paul realised that the road to salvation runs through Christ. By placing your trust in Him (v. 11) the believer is assured of salvation. Paul then emphasises that no distinction is made between how people are saved. Whether you are a Jew or a gentile, salvation comes through faith in Jesus Christ. “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (v. 13).
Strangely enough, although we stand by this understanding that all who put their trust in Jesus will be saved, in practice we often observe the opposite. Before God we are all the same. We are all in need of grace. But it seems that some people need more grace than others. Some people, because of choices they had made in life, have to “deserve” this grace from God. They are too sinful to be able to be a recipient of God’s grace. So we tend to think.
With the stigma related to HIV and AIDS, those who have been infected with the HI-virus often have to learn to cope not only with a new lifestyle in which they are reminded literally, on a daily basis, that they are infected, every time they take their medication, but unfortunately, many people will also continue to remind them of their status.
It is then that the carriers of the greatest message of grace, the Church of the Lord, Jesus Christ, should step in and give the assurance that, regardless of who you are, regardless of choices made in the past, regardless of HIV status, we all stand naked before God, knowing that we have nothing to offer him in exchange for His grace. We can never “deserve” God’s grace. We can only receive it with thanksgiving.
To think about: Do you sometimes act as if some people do not “deseve” God’s unconditional grace?
Written by: Dr Arnau van Wyngaard, Shiselweni Homebased Care