Originally scheduled for
Those of us who are
of a certain age will remember one Popeye the Sailor. For those of
you completely ignorant, Popeye is a cartoon character. He is not
seen much today on television, because most of the cartoons were
very early, done in black and white. Popeye lived the simple life —
of violence. Almost all his cartoons would end with a fistfight.
Just before the fistfight Popeye would consume an entire can of
spinach, much to the dismay of those of us who dislike the
would describe himself this way: "I am what I am, and that's all
what I am." It's a rather fatalistic view; it means that nothing can
be done about this propensity to punch out other people. In truth,
if something was done Popeye would no longer be Popeye.
Paul use some of the
same words to describe himself as a man thoroughly changed:
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me
was not without effect. (NIV)
Paul started out as
a thoroughgoing legalist. Completely certain of the righteousness of
his opinions, he persecuted the early church. You might think that
God would then consider him unforgivable. God did not. On the road
to Damascus Paul met his master and everything in his life was
changed. We are quite familiar with that change; sometimes we forget
that God did this by grace due to his great love.
Grace is caused by
the great love God has for his children. It is a gift; the gift is
never earned. It is always given. That great love was given to us at
the Cross. So that we might remember what God has done for us,
Christ implemented the Lord's Supper. It is the way in which the
church remembers and thanks God for what he has done.
"You are what you
are, and that's all what you are." And what are you? Saved by grace.