I've got great news. This morning as I checked my email I discovered correspondence from a barrister in the UK. I don't know him, but he was left several million pounds from a relative's estate but he needs help transferring it to the United States. If I can only provide some critical financial information, he will wire me the money and let me keep a portion of it for my troubles. Isn't that wonderful! I'm rich! Because I love my job, I'll continue to work for free!
Obviously this is a scam. It's become so common that we don't even notice when we get these types of emails 'phishing' for our financial information. It is certainly too good to be true. No one would ever just give us something, not something as truly incredible as a life free from financial worry. There are always strings attached, right?
While we do live by 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware) and we are careful knowing that we never get something for nothing, the irony is the foundation of our salvation is based on a free gift. Grace. Gratia. Charis.
It's not earned and there is nothing we can do to pay it back. It's free. But aren't we required to live a life of faith and love and holiness? We are, but look at it this way, if you inhale, aren't you required to exhale? Yes and it comes naturally. The moment we become aware that God loves, truly loves us, is the moment we starting learning how to 'exhale' faith and love and holiness. Faith, love, and holiness are not conditions of grace – they are the fruits of it.
Martin Luther was changed when he realized this. John Wesley was changed when he realized this. How about us?
Fr. Steve Rice
Rector, St Timothy's Episcopal Church