Finding Grace in a World of Ungrace
I came to see that the image of God that I had been raised with was woefully incomplete. I came to know a God who is, in the words of the psalmist, “a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness.” (Psalm 86:15 NIV)
Grace comes free of charge to people who do not deserve it, and I am one of those people. I think back to who I was—resentful, wound up tight with anger, a single hardened link in a long chain of ungrace learned from family and church. Now I am trying in my own small way to pipe the tune of grace. I do so because I know, more surely than I know anything, that any pang of healing or forgiveness or goodness I have ever felt comes solely from the grace of God.
The Christian faith is not about performance; it’s about God’s relentless tenderness and love. You are the prodigal child, the pearl of great price, and the treasure in the field, Jesus said through parables. And he instructed his followers to address God as abba, our daddy.
Christianity is not primarily a moral code, or an ethic, or a philosophy of life. It’s a love affair. Jesus takes us to the father, and they pour out the Holy Spirit upon us—not to be nicer people with better morals, but brand-new creations, prophets, lovers, human torches ignited with the flaming Spirit of the living God.
Self-condemnation and gloom block God’s way to us. The key is to let yourself be loved in your brokenness. Let the focus of your inner life rest on one truth, the staggering, mind-blowing truth that God loves you unconditionally as you are and not as you should be. Because nobody is as they should be.
The meaning of life. The wasted years of life. The poor choices of life. God answers the mess of life with one word: grace.
By the law we are judged for our sins and condemned to suffer and die. Jesus came to save us by His love, by His grace, by His mercy, offering Himself as a sacrifice for our sins and thereby fulfilling the law. And Jesus said that all the law and the prophets hang on love for God and love for our neighbors.
But when people are not willing to receive the freedom that God’s Spirit and salvation by grace give, they often turn back to legalism and the law to prove their points. And when they do that, they are also turning their backs on the freedom of grace and the liberty which the Lord has given us.
You’ve either got to go all the way by accepting salvation by grace or you’ve got to go all the way by attempting to earn your salvation by works and keeping the law, because if you fail to keep the law even on one point, you are held accountable for the whole law. (Romans 11:6; James 2:10)
So “stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free!” (Galatians 5:1)
—David Brandt Berg
When a person works an eight-hour day and receives a fair day’s pay for his time, that is a wage. When a person competes with an opponent and receives a trophy for his performance, that is a prize. When a person receives appropriate recognition for his long service or high achievements, that is an award. But when a person is not capable of earning a wage, can win no prize, and deserves no award, yet receives such a gift anyway, that is a good picture of God’s unmerited favor. This is what we mean when we talk about the grace of God.
—G. W. Knight
Now I will say this to every sinner, though he should think himself to be the worst sinner who ever lived: cry to the Lord and seek Him while He may be found. A throne of grace is a place fitted for you. By simple faith, go to your Savior, for He is the throne of grace.
Watching a trapeze show is breathtaking. We wonder at the dexterity and timing. We gasp at near-misses. In most cases, there is a net underneath. When they fall, they jump up and bounce back to the trapeze.
In Christ, we live on the trapeze. The whole world should be able to watch and say, “Look how they live, how they love one another. Look how well the husbands treat their wives. And aren’t they the best workers, the best neighbors, the best students?” That is to live on the trapeze, being a show to the world.
What happens when we slip? The net is surely there. The blood of our Lord, Jesus Christ, has provided forgiveness for ALL our trespasses. Both the net and the ability to stay on the trapeze are works of God’s grace.
—Juan Carlos Ortiz
I do not at all understand the mystery of grace—only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.
A story of grace: One cold winter’s day a 10-year-old boy was standing barefoot in front of a shoe store, peering through the window and shivering with cold. A lady approached the boy and asked him what he was doing.
“I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes,” the boy replied.
The lady took him by the hand and went into the store, and asked the clerk to get a half dozen pairs of socks for the boy. She then asked if he could give her a basin of water and a towel. He quickly brought them to her. She took the boy to the back part of the store, knelt down, washed his little feet, and dried them with a towel.
By this time the clerk had returned with the socks. Placing a pair upon the boy’s feet, she then purchased him a pair of shoes, and tying up the remaining pairs of socks, gave them to him. She patted him on the head and said, “No doubt, my little fellow, you feel more comfortable now?”
As she turned to go, the astonished lad caught her by the hand, and looking up in her face, with tears in his eyes, answered the question with these words: “Are you God’s wife?”
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