Friends, as part of the Christian Union’s Events Week, I have been asked to write about what God has done in my life; it is summed up splendidly by the word ‘grace’, which I, like every other Christian, have received. It is an abstract term with quite an ambiguous meaning: am I, for instance, referring to a friend of yours with that name? Unsurprisingly I am not, though I’m sure that she is very nice; ‘grace’ simply refers to God’s offer to forgive our wrong-doing. This is a really big deal because, if we are honest with ourselves, we all have done wrong and as a result face fair punishment from God. To become a Christian is simply to pray to God that He would forgive our wrong-doing, since Jesus has already been punished for it on the cross, through which one would receive this grace, not be punished but be restored to a right relationship with God and receive eternal life.
I am aware that I should probably also mention how I became a Christian. My story is comparatively uneventful: I grew up with Christian parents who taught me about Jesus, as well as an equally supportive Church-family. I can’t actually remember when I put my trust in God for my forgiveness and received His grace, although I definitely have done so. When I was younger, I remember asking an older Christian if this meant that I was still a proper Christian; his response was that "if you have put your trust in God for your wrong-doing to be forgiven, you are indeed a Christian", which was a great encouragement.
I’ll end this little note with a short quote from John Newton, an ex-slave trader who accepted God’s forgiveness and wrote: "T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved; how precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed!”
I hope this is food for thought and that you enjoy the rest of Events Week; I look forward to seeing you around Cambridge.