Amazing grace, how sweet the sound….
We hear a lot of talk about grace in the Christian community today. As if grace is its own entity, a fourth member of the trinity almost. We are supposed to be grace, look like grace, act like grace because after all, we owe it all to grace…..
Wait, what? Who?
Somehow we have transformed grace from its original meaning. We wouldn’t say “we owe it all to love.” No, because love has to be extended by someone. However, grace is spoken of like this harmless dove that lights upon everyone and gives sweet kisses on the forehead. Grace would never judge or say someone is unworthy. Grace would never hurt someone’s feelings.
That is the very definition of grace: Unmerited favor. God giving us something we do not deserve. We’ve replaced the definition. We don’t tell people “Jesus Christ died even when you didn’t deserve it.” Instead we say, “Grace did it because you’re worth it.”
No, grace literally means that I was not worth it. Jesus Christ had nothing to gain from coming to earth and dying for me. He gave up everything. He left behind more than dying for me could ever give him. He did not look down and see in us a spark of potential. Grace didn’t die on the cross for me. Grace is Jesus Christ dying on the cross for me when I would turn and spit in his face. Me, a filthy sin-sick orphan. Undeserving of even a glance from the God of the universe. He made me and then he saved me and calls me his child each and every day even though I deserve to make my bed in hell. That is grace.
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:6-8
What is real grace in real life?
Grace is messy and real. It takes our flaws and our failures and cracks in our lives and fills them with Christ and turns them into enough. It wakes us up every morning and gives us breath that we might or might not use for Him that day. It finds us on our knees at night when we have no other place to turn when we know that we can’t make it on our own.
Grace tells us who we truly are. It is the light in the night when we would cling to the darkness. It is the decision that we are forced to make when we would not choose it for ourselves. It is the will of God in our lives when we would settle for our own. It is truth of payment on a cross when we were content in our sin.
For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Thank God for grace, but grace is not a person. Jesus Christ was full of grace and truth. Truth being the flame that ravages the hearts of men while grace is the perfume that makes it smell so sweet. You can’t have the perfume without the flame. You can not give grace to people who think they deserve it. If we deserved it or worked for it, it wouldn’t be grace. That is why grace can not be grace without the truth of who we are- undeserving sinners deserving only of hell.
Jesus Christ could not be all that He was and is without both grace and truth. Think of the cross. Grace didn’t just wipe our sin away into oblivion because its so “amazing.” The amazing thing about Jesus Christ’s death on the cross is that sin had to be paid for. Jesus was crushed under the weight of God’s wrath.
But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. Isaiah 53:5
See, grace isn’t the buffer that makes God “soft” on sin. It is the driving force along with LOVE that led him to pay for sin with his life. My sin and yours that we claim is all “under grace” was painfully bore in every ounce of flesh and bone of the man Christ Jesus, and yet we so often think get off scott free and it doesn’t have to be reckoned for.
See we like this concept of grace because grace doesn’t require anything from us. Jesus Christ does.
What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Romans 6:1-2
Grace isn’t our “get out of jail free” card. It isn’t our permit to do whatever we want because God is too old to care to punish us. It isn’t a fourth part of the trinity who looked down and saw in is a spark of potential. It isn’t the only thing we should strive to look like.
Let’s not get confused. The Christian life is living boldly for God as Jesus did while he was here on earth– not just being clones of an idol we have named “grace.”
Jesus Christ, grace and truth and love and mercy and justice. He is our idol. He is the mold we should be seeking to fill. Read the Bible. Get to know him. Don’t just take what the culture of Christianity in America and around the world would have you to believe about him. Soak up his character and his courage. Emulate his life….. and learn what the grace of our Savior cost him and what it means to us today. I owe my life to Him.