At Maroochydore Ministers' Fraternal last month, one of the other ministers said, "I am thinking of preaching on the G.S.T. on Sunday." What? The proposed Goods and Services Tax?
To the rest of us that sounded like a controversial subject with the potential to divide his congregation. Then he started to explain how today's most memorable initials could be pressed to service to draw attention to the essentials of the Christian message. So... how about a Christian G.S.T.?
Grace is at the heart of the Christian gospel. Grace centres our attention on what God has done for us in Jesus Christ. That is why the Cross is the symbol of Christianity. It points to what happened in history when Jesus died for our sins. None of us can make ourselves good enough to deserve heaven. Paul writes that "sin pays its wage - death; but God's free gift is eternal life in union with Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 6.23). God's free gift - that's grace!
Salvation - that speaks of being rescued, delivered. That is what happens when grace is received. In Jericho, a little man was hiding in a tree so he could see Jesus. "Hurry down, Zacchaeus, because I must stay in your house today." That's grace for you - extended to the meanest, most unlikely person in town. Zacchaeus welcomed Jesus and showed in practice his deep regret for all the people he had hurt. Jesus said, "Salvation has come to this house today" (Lk 19.9a). He was forgiven, set free to live a new life.
Transformation is the result when we receive the gift of salvation. Paul linked the three together in Eph. 2.8-10. "For it is by God's grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God's gift, so that no one can boast about it. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do."
More important than what you think of the government's G.S.T. proposals is how you respond to the grace of God for salvation leading to transformation.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Buderim Notes & News, September 1998