‘The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.’ Philemon verse 25
There are times when being a Christian is a real joy, perhaps when we have a sense of God’s love or hear words that seem to flow from the heart of God to us. Yet there are other times when our faith is hard to bear, such as when we are hurt and know we need to forgive.
This well-known verse gives us some indication of the way we can maintain our faith in difficult times. It talks about drawing upon Jesus rather than trying to act ourselves. Too often this is our problem and we try to do the 'Christian thing' from our own strength; trying to summon up the will to forgive or forcing ourselves to be generous when it doesn’t come naturally.
'The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit' really does open the door to all manner of possibilities. It speaks about the active presence of Jesus working in the deepest part of our being. Grace is all about the transforming strength that flows from Jesus. It is everything we need that we feel we do not have, including the power to forgive, faith to hold on to the promises of God and the river of God's love for us.
This verse assures us that the transforming power is not ‘out there somewhere’ if only we could experience it, but rather it is within us, in the deepest part of our being. Perhaps it is so deep that we can easily forget it exists - but it is there, flowing even when we are unaware of it and ready to flow even more when we call it into being.
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The Revd John Ryeland, Director of The Christian Healing Mission