Today I am starting the first of several messages in the series I refer to as the “Five Kernels of Corn”. The title of this series comes from a Thanksgiving tradition that is based on, some say, a legend. When a horrible famine faced the early settlers of what would become the United States of America, they had to ration their food. According to this tradition, each person was given only five kernels of corn per day to live on. Since we live in the time of grocery stores and fast food places, try to imagine living on meager rations just to get through a harsh winter. You cannot. Most of us have never known a time when food was rationed.
Going back to the story. The Pilgrims, after making it through the famine, found bounty in the next harvest. As a way to remind them of their trials, they would celebrate by having a great feast. But, before anything was served, they looked down at their plates to see five kernels of corn on their plates. These five small kernels were their reminder of what they had faced and how their faith in God got them through the worst of times.
Over time, each kernel was assigned a specific meaning and that is why I continue to preach the lessons of the five kernels of corn. I have taken the opportunity to devote these messages to covering the meaning of each kernel.
The first kernel reminds us that God loves each of us. It is a simple message to preach; however, none of us can understand God’s love. His love is infinite and undeserved. When you look at today’s society, some would pray that God wipes out mankind and the planet and starts over. It would be so easy to do. In one word or wave of His mighty hand, God would wipe the entire planet from existence. Nothing would be left. Our little blue-green world would simply vanish without a trace or tear.
But, God will not do that. He wants each of us to have a relationship with Him and place our trust in Him. He wants our love and for us to worship Him as the center of our existence. Without Him, we would be nothing, literally. He spoke the universe and our world into existence. Stars, planets and life all came from Him. Everything we have comes directly from Him. Because He loves us, God has given us salvation. We are saved, not by our own actions, but by His grace.
John, in the chapter three of the gospel that bears his name, summarized God’s love for us when he recorded Jesus’ words, “For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
Jesus was given to us out of love and he laid down his life out of love. If you were to sum up his life, Jesus, like God, is love. That love is so very alien to us. We cannot completely understand it. In fact, the Greek language has, depending on the source, six to eight words for love that are completely different from each other. The highest and most noble form in the Christian Bible is “agape love”.
Agape love, in the Christian sense, is an undeserved love. That means that the love that is given is done more so out of charity to the other. Agape love requires faithfulness, commitment, and sacrifice without expecting anything in return.
It is our choice to return that love back to God. He showed His love by giving us His son to die for our sins. Jesus became our atonement sacrifice. He was without sin or blemish. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice for once and for all.
Paul, in chapter five of his second epistle to the Corinthians writes, “And all of this is a gift from God, who brought us back to himself through Christ. And God has given us this task of reconciling people to him. For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
Through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, God has given us the path back to Him. All we have to do is accept Jesus as the son of God and follow him. Once we accept him, we are to walk in the newness of life and tell the world about the “old, old story of Jesus and His love.”
We, as people created in the image of God, should always remember the lesson of the first kernel of corn. God truly loves us and Jesus came to live among us and to die for our sins. It is through Jesus’ life that we can see the love of God manifested in human flesh.
Jesus gave up his exalted place in Heaven to humbly come to us and teach us God’s love for us and to show us the way back to the Father. Although it is a simple message to preach and teach, it is the hardest for the world to understand. We are suspicious in nature and believe that if something is too good to be true, it often is. In this case, God’s love comes without strings or fine print. His love came into the world in the body of a small child born in humble circumstances.
As you give thanks daily, I ask you to take time this week to thank God for His agape love. With His love in our hearts and souls, we can live in righteousness “in spite of dungeon, fire and sword” and stand firm in His grace.
May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.