/ faith / Bryan Schneider

The Rainbow of Grace

"It is a bow, but it is directed upwards, not towards the earth; for the seals of the covenant were intended to comfort, not to terrify." - Matthew Henry
And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. - 1 Corinthians 6:11

The Sign of God's Gracious Patience

In a sermon at presbytery we were reminded of Henry's words above. God could have pointed the bow toward heaven as a continual threat. The Lord of the heavens could have given us terror every time the clouds formed. Our lives could have been lived in constant terror that God would again destroy. But, he didn't. God gave creation a sign of his gracious patience.

The Danger of Presuming Upon Grace

Here's the rub though. We by human nature like to presume upon grace. We live as if our daily bread is guaranteed. We go to the store assuming there will be produce. We presume the world will continue to wobble on its axis giving us seasons. We presume the cosmic order will remain the same. We presume the seed time and harvest time will come in their intervals. The modern mind makes the presumption that what we experience historically will continue to be historically true. Nothing new here. Just carry on with business as usual. We presume.

From Presumption to Complacency

Presumption naturally leads to complacency. I presume my wife will always be loyal and committed to our marriage so I can take her for granted. I presume my children will grow up well so I can become complacent in my parenting. I presume the church will remain healthy so I can become complacent in shepherding. I presume God saved me so I can become complacent in piety.

This presumption and complacency can dull us to both amazing beauty and signs of danger.

The Beauty of God's Promises: A Lesson from Hawaii

When my wife and I were courting she lived in Hawaii. When I went to visit her one week I was awe struck. Not by her – she was and is beautiful – but by the vivid rainbows that appeared in the sky. Rainbows are a rare treat for most of us. So when people in Pittsburgh or Iowa City see the sun shine through the afternoon rains people gawk. They can't help it. Phone's come out instinctively. Social media feeds are filled with, "Look at the Rainbow!"

Not so in Hawaii. There are almost daily rainbows. I'm not going to try to explain how or why. But, there were very few days I was in Hawaii that we didn't see a rainbow at some point on the Island. Yet, phones weren't out. Cameras weren't clicking. People were walking around complacent. The rainbow was cool but nothing new. There was no gawking. There was not admiration. Just business as usual. They were missing the glory. They were missing the beauty. They were missing the promise. I wanted to yell, "STOP! Look at the Rainbow!" By nature we're complacent. But, God is still graciously patient.

A Wake-up Call in the South - Urgency Needed

Then last week I went to a city in the south. You know that type of city where the "Ya'll" runs deep. I presumed the culture of the south. My presumption should have been a sign of danger. I presumed the gospel had mode inroads in these southern cities a long time ago. My wife and I traveled to the south for a conference for pastors. I presumed the kingdom of God was reigning in the cities we visited. I presumed myself into complacency. That is a dangerous place to be.

The Lord shook that out of me pretty quickly. People were eating outside. The weather was unseasonably nice. The streets were crowed with pedestrians. The sunshine belt was living up to its promise. But, this was clearly no longer the Bible belt as LGBTQ+ people walked openly and affectionately in the streets. The local tarot card reader was peddling her craft on the street corner. When we went to the bathroom at the mall I turned around and walked out as a trans person (woman transitioning to man mabye...) was in a very small 2 stall room. My wife walked into a bathroom where there was a man (transitioning to a woman maybe...). We walked into the local Barnes and Noble and saw proudly displayed magazines for Witchcraft, Satanism, and the Occult.

I walked out of that Barnes and Noble weeping. I had presumed upon God's grace in the south. I had to remember at that moment that there can be no complacency in evangelism and mission.

The Call to Vigilance and Gratitude

God is graciously patient. He keeps the earth spinning. God gives us the seasons. God gives us grace every single day. May we not presume upon His grace. May we not be lulled into complacency. His bow in the sky brings amazing comfort to the Christian heart. His bow in the sky must not lull us into presuming upon His grace. He will come again to judge the living and the dead. Am I being complacent? Have we forgotten that God was graciously patient with us? Do I remember, I was once just like the rest until someone loved me enough to shake me out of my complacency? Or, have I slipped into complacency? Do I live my life, "Nothing to see here. Just move along."

Bryan Schneider

Bryan Schneider

Husband to Olivia. Father of Nathan, Deborah, Daniel, & Ellie. Blessed to serve Sharon RP Church (sharonrpc.org). Loving Rural life.

Read More