Wednesday, June 15, 2011

oh, to grace how great a debtor

Recently my friend Irene and I tried to open a bottle of wine without a corkscrew. First we tried to dig out the cork with a screwdriver, but the cork broke in half. Then we screwed a screw into the remainder of cork, and tried to pull the cork out with pliers.

Get it, Irene.
But the cork kept deteriorating. Those little boogers are really packed in there.

So then we wrapped the spout of the bottle in a towel, put it in the sink, and hit it with a hammer. (And by "we," I mean Irene did so, and I stood on the other side of the counter with my hands protecting my head like they teach you on an airplane in case of a crash. I was one floatation device short of the Southwest safety catalog.)

But the bottle didn't break. So finally we had to suck it up and go to Kroger and buy a corkscrew, for seven dollars. Come on, Kroger. I'm probably never even going to use this thing again. Anybody want a corkscrew? I will sell it to you for $6.99. It's quality.

This morning I was reading in John 8, and in verse 31, Jesus says, "If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples."

I think this would be a pretty easy verse to just breeze over. Right, obviously, in order to be a disciple of Jesus, we have to hold to His teaching. Duh. Moving right along.

But this verse really stuck out to me. (About this time you're probably wondering, What the hairy does a bottle of wine have to do with Jesus? Patience, grasshopper.) I thought, What exactly is Jesus' teaching? What is He referring to that we must hold to in order to be His disciple? Do I hold to His teaching in the way I live my life?

I prayed, "Lord, penetrate my heart with your teaching and convict me of the things I need to change."

Then I thought, "Whoa, that is a heavy prayer." You don't pray words like "penetrate" and "convict" unless you're really serious. Am I willong to go through what that prayer may bring about?

And that's when the image of the wine bottle came to my mind. I realized as I prayed, that my prayer was basically asking God to take a hammer to me and crush me, in order to make me into what He wanted. ("But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping it as seemed best to him" [Jeremiah 18:4]).


But I saw God's grace like that towel that Irene wrapped around that bottle. Breaking, yes. But gently. Wrapped in God's grace. Sweetly broken. Maybe Jeremy Riddle wasn't exactly picturing smashing a wine bottle wrapped in a kitchen towel with a hammer when he wrote that song, but I am.

And if that's what it takes to be a disciple of Jesus, that's what I want. A disciple, not just a Christian. And I think it's great that Justin's going to be preaching about being a disciple this weekend. (Saturday at 5:30pm, and Sunday at 9am, 10:30am, and noon. Shameless plug for the Vineyard? Yes.) I'm looking forward to hearing what he says.


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