Grace is the teaching that salvation comes by grace only, not as something earned. Salvation is an unearned gift from God through Jesus; God acts alone to save the sinner. The responsibility for salvation does not rest to any degree on our actions or belief, but comes from God freely through Jesus. Jesus died on the cross to reconcile all of creation to God and in the resurrection God showed his love for all and the promise that death is not the end of the story that God will save all. Even though salvation through grace is a free gift, we must accept the gift in order to be transformed in and through it. God gives, we respond.
We need to stress not sin but God’s awesome mercy in sending Jesus. Justification means that utterly guilty we are made through the person and work of Jesus right with God. All have sinned, fallen short and deserve to be treated as such, yet in God there is a different way, a way of grace that sees us and transforms us into the blameless people of God. This is radical, scandal and many question how this can be so. Jesus said it. Jesus told us that God loves us then went about showing us in his life, death, and resurrection that it is so. When we discover and embrace this, it changes everything, our relationship to God and response to life.
Grace calls out, ‘You are not just a disillusioned old man who may die soon, a middle-aged woman stuck in a job and desperately wanting to get out, a young person feeling the fire in the belly begin to grow cold. You may be insecure, inadequate, mistaken or potbellied. Death, panic, depression, and disillusionment may be near you. But you are not just that. You are accepted.’ Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you really are accepted. (Brennan Manning)
This grace of God is a very great, strong, mighty and active thing. It does not lie asleep in the soul. Grace hears, leads, drives, draws, changes, works all in man, and let’s itself be distinctly felt and experienced. It is hidden, but its works are evident. (Martin Luther)
Grace is powerful and life transforming. This is not anything we could ever do. On our own, we are not much, but with God, all things are possible. All our striving and doing and working will not gain us a single inch, but the moment and some may argue that even before we turn to God we have everything. God grants us what we could not earn free of charge with no strings attached. God loved us first. Even this turning, this act of faith is not what we do, but what God works in us. “Someone who is determinedly trying to show God how good he or she is likely to become an insufferable prig” (N.T. Wright), but someone surrendered to God’s grace is humble, loving, and accepting. We are accepted and loved, so we accept and love others.
Living by grace is a deep trust in the redeeming work of Jesus Christ in our lives, knowing that we are a beloved child of God, and that God is present and at work in the world at all times. Trusting God is to stand in child-like awe and openness in the mysterious and gracious love and acceptance. The Father sent the Son, so that we might live fully and radically and love wastefully.
Grace is more than fair. Grace is too good to be true, but the good news is that it is true. We don’t deserve God’s unconditional and limitless love and grace. We could never earn it, yet it is still ours free of charge. God loves us as we are, but way too much to leave us that way.
Grace “is God’s own life, shared by us. God’s life is love. By grace, we are able to share in the infinitely selfless love of Him who is such pure actuality that He needs nothing and therefore cannot conceivably exploit anything for selfish ends. Indeed, outside of Him there is nothing, and whatever exists by His free gift of its being, so that one of the notions that is absolutely contradictory to the perfection of God is selfishness.” (Thomas Merton)
We are invited daily to revel in the miracle of life. Just to breathe, just to live, just to be is holy. We are on holy ground and should live in deep reverence to life, reality, divine, the holy, God—whatever you want to call it. Life is good and conspires for our Good. Life is a gift. Life is beautiful. Life is a glorious, rapturous, and awesome moment.
The Poet Walt Whitman said, “Every moment of light and dark is a miracle.” He was right! Everything is a miracle, a gift from God and the moment we rediscover and embrace this, the smoother life will be. I am not saying that is easy or we should be happy when we are in pain or darkness has over taken us. That would be dumb and you should ignore me. I know life can be hard. Often it seems life is suffering. Evil happens. Chaos ensues. Yet, I don’t think dwelling on the bad will ever make us feel better. We are called to serve our neighbor, to speak truth in tragedy, and to do good. If we dwell on the bad that is flung at us than we cripple ourselves from serving, speaking, and doing good, but if we can step beyond our little selves than we can do good.
To live by grace is to be humble, loving, accepting, and serve all. To live by grace is to join the party of creation. To live by grace is to know that love wins and will always have the final word.
The grace of God means something like: Here is your life. You might never have been, but you are because the party wouldn’t have been complete without you. (Frederick Buechner)
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