Series: The Judged
Message: Guilty Go Free
Preacher: Elia King
Reflection: Elia King
Live Wonder: Jessyka Albert
Live Adventure: Jessyka Albert
Live Purpose: Japhet De Oliveira
Editor: Becky De Oliveira
Refresh: Begin with prayer. Ask for the Holy Spirit to open your heart to new understanding and for God’s character to be revealed.
Read: Romans 3:21-31 in the English Standard Version (ESV). Note 1–3 insights or questions.
Reflect: I was recently traveling to a wedding in the mountains with a friend in his new car. Eager to show me everything his car was capable of (and also perhaps running a few minutes late), at one point we found ourselves traveling, with some of the other cars around us, somewhat faster than the posted speed limit.
We rounded a bend in the road, and out of the corner of my eye I saw a flash of white as another vehicle pulled up on our right, intent on joining us on the highway. Two words emblazoned on the side of the vehicle got our attention: State Trooper.
As we coasted to a speed much closer to the one posted on the side of the road, the two of us watched slack-jawed as our new friend eased into the space ahead of us, turned on the red, white, and blue flashing lights on the top of the vehicle, and pulled over the car immediately in front of us.
We rode in stunned silence for a few seconds, resting in the knowledge that we were equally deserving of the ticket that was no doubt being written with someone else’s name on it. We both fidgeted in our seats, exchanging shameful glances. I cleared my throat, offering what I thought was the only reasonable response, given our circumstances:
“I’m definitely going to include this in my next sermon!”
The truth was that we, like all of the other vehicles who were traveling at the same speed around that bend in the road, deserved something that we did not receive that day. But we were also given something we didn’t deserve. Instead of a moving violation, we were given the opportunity to travel at a more reasonable pace, perhaps a bit more aware of our surroundings, and maybe just a bit more gracious to the other vehicles on the road.
One of the ideas that shows up time and again in Paul’s letters is that followers of Jesus could benefit from learning to be a little kinder to the ones with us on the road. We are terribly good at navigating traffic, cutting each other off, and getting to our destination first. But as it turns out (and as Paul reminds us again and again), traveling with Jesus often requires that we make accomodations for our fellow travelers, because we recognize the grace that has been shown to us.
Recalibrate: What grace have you received lately that you didn’t deserve? In what ways did you extend grace to those around you?
Respond: Pray for the ability to love everyone around you—especially the ones who seem the most difficult.
Research: Read Everybody Always by Bob Goff. Which of Bob’s stories resonate with your own experience?
Remember: “God makes people right with himself through their faith in Jesus Christ. This is true for all who believe in Christ, because all people are the same” (Romans 3:22, NCV).
Elia King is a singer, songwriter, designer, and guitarist who has been leading music in worship settings around the world for more than two decades. He owns Trail Ridge Printing, a screen printing company in Estes Park, CO, and is worship leader at Boulder Adventist Church. Elia graduated with a BA in religion from Andrews University in 2004. He is married to Dena, owner of The Grey House—a mountain boutique—and they have two children, Ellie and Anderson.
Talk to your child about the best gifts you’ve ever received. What was their favorite? What was your favorite? Maybe even ask them what gift they would like for an upcoming birthday. Tell them that Jesus is the best gift-giver ever. Sometimes we can see His gifts, but other times we can’t. There’s the most important gift called “grace.” Grace is something you can’t see, but it is the thing that makes us right with God.
Paul says in the Bible that we are made right through grace which is a free gift from God. Can you think of the best gift you have ever received? What was it and why did you like it so much? Did you have to do anything to get the gift? Did you have to pay any money or give someone something to get the gift? Getting a gift is something special because it’s not something that you earn. Grace from God is like that. He wants to give us something that we would never be able to pay for ourselves.
Want to try that exercise we did yesterday with another word? Ask your parents, teachers, elders, or pastor to help you define one of those words and see how the text comes to life through fresh eyes. Also, as you read this text one more time before we gather for church tomorrow, I have something I want you to consider. With all the options in life, in light of all the choices you have made so far, why do you deserve the eternal second chance? Paul’s writing shows that he knows that he does not deserve it, but that God loves him so much that the gift of salvation is his anyway, simply for accepting it. If “justification by faith” is that beautiful, what is preventing you today from accepting it? I gave my life to Jesus when I was 11 years old. That was the day when I admitted to my family and community, through baptism, that Jesus was who I wanted to follow and that the gift of salvation was mine. I accepted covenant justice and it has taken me through good times and bad times. It is always Jesus who is faithful, who pulls me through. Consider trying that for yourself today. Simply let Jesus know that you accept His gift, and ask your church family to help you join the journey.