Let’s talk about grace, baby
Therefore, since we have been justified [that is, acquitted of sin, declared blameless before God] by faith, [let us grasp the fact that] we have peace with God [and the joy of reconciliation with Him] through our Lord Jesus Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed). Through Him we also have access by faith into this [remarkable state of] grace in which we [firmly and safely and securely] stand. Let us rejoice in our hope and the confident assurance of [experiencing and enjoying] the glory of [our great] God [the manifestation of His excellence and power].
Romans 5:1-2 AMP
Over the last two weeks we pulled the “Our Father” apart to see what it could teach us about prayer. In the last post we specifically looked at sin, and today I want to continue with this topic and expand on it a bit.
So, in Wednesday’s post we saw that sin is a matter of either/or – there isn’t a “spectrum” of sin, with some sins (typically ours) being less sinful than other sins (usually other peoples’). We like this last idea because it allows us to justify our own sinful behaviour by going, “Well, I might have skimmed money at work but at least I didn’t cheat on my wife like Joe.” But the fact is that there are no big or small sins, there’s just sin. Boo!, we think, because this does indeed mean that we have to stop doing sinful stuff, even “small” sins like gossip. But it’s actually good news: in the same way that there aren’t big or small sins, there isn’t big or small grace – there’s just grace.
Wikipedia defines God’s grace as follows:
Grace in Christianity is the free and unmerited favour of God as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowing of blessings. Common Christian teaching is that grace is unmerited mercy (favor) that God gave to humanity by sending his son to die on a cross, thus delivering eternal salvation.
Grace is the ultimate equalizer because it is given frankly, freely, to everyone who calls on Jesus no matter who they are or what they have done. Grace isn’t determined by any human means, it isn’t a product of merit or good works, it isn’t doled out in amounts equal to the sins we’ve committed. Like God’s love and like God himself, it just is. It’s manna that is always enough.Grace puts two people next to each other, one a child murderer and the other a slanderer, and says they are equal; not because the gravity of their transgressions are equal, but because God’s love and forgiveness is equal to their transgressions. Grace, by it’s very nature, is unfair, and we can thank our lucky stars for that because it means that God’s favour will never be withdrawn from us.
But the function of grace is not just to restore us to right relationship with God; it is also the means, and the only means, by which we are to pursue sanctification. “Sanctification” is a fancy way of talking about this process we start new every day: the process of remembering that we were dead, but are now alive in God, and to live our lives accordingly. Sanctification is the process of remembering grace.
Paul writes about this in Romans. In chapter 6:11-14 he says,
In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its evil desires. Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace. (NIV)
Lord God, I straight up need all your grace today. Even when – especially when – I think I don’t. Rain it down on me like rain on a field, or vines in a vineyard, or fruit trees in an orchard. Help me to ingest this grace and to bear fruit for you – fruits of being patient, of not being a jerk, of caring for other people, of giving my time freely, of living a life faithful to you. Help me also to remember that it never just rains on one tree. Help me to give grace as I get grace. In Jesus’ holy name, amen.