Monday began a series of writing on three crucial words every believer need to understand; guilt, grace, and gospel. Today I hope to cover grace. By saying that I hope to cover grace, I mean that I will be addressing a sliver of its depth and significance to the Christian life.
Though grace is amazing, an improper understanding of grace can leave us desperate, broken, and empty. I know this to be true because there was a time in my walk with Jesus that grace was not present, let alone amazing. Even though I was serving in a full-time pastorate position, I wrestled with truly embracing the eternal kindness of the Father. In fact, I found seeking to please God to earn His favor was rather exhausting.
Thankfully, I had a grace awakening during a spiritual formation retreat in the mountains of Southern California. God overwhelmed me with a feeling of wonder, love, and acceptance that I can not fully express with words. I suddenly realized the powerful, gracious nature of my relationship with God.
Many people define grace a getting what we do not deserve or via the Christian moniker: "God's Riches at Christ's Expense." I have come to define grace as God granting us with exactly what we need when we need it. Let me explain:
To a hopeless, drug-addicted prostitute, grace is the true embrace of God's love-- delivered free of charge, unconditionally. It is laden with the phrases "I accept you for you" and "there is a future for you free of abuse and solicitation." Grace is hope, here and now.
To hypocritical religious pharisee, God's grace comes in the form of rebuke. Words of woe, names of white-washed tomb, and declarations of "hypocrite" are actually endearing words of grace as well. They are needed, whether the pharisee heeds them or not. Here God's kindness comes as a grace-spanking, one might say.
To the soul-searching young adult, questioning the meaning of life, God's grace is a gentle wooing to "follow Him" followed by the revelation of His greatness and the His great patience. Grace is the invitation to truth and a God-driven purpose, significance.
To the parents who have tragically lost their young child to cancer, the grace of God is divinely-sustaining strength. Grace then becomes the empowering testimony that He alone will bring triumph from tragedy. In this situation, 2 Corinthians 12:9 is proved true, that His "grace is sufficient."
If God did not love us immensely, nor care about our redemptive possibility, He would let us wander into an ego-centric life of high piety, delve into the darkness of our depravity, or allow life's great trials to swallow us whole. It is God's eternal kindness, His grace, that beckons us to freedom and true abundant life.
I pray that God may give you exactly what you need. May His grace be ever upon you!