I was taken aback by grace this week. For us we understand grace as unconditional forgiveness…which it is – but our unconditional forgiveness, our concept of grace, is bound up in more-often-than-not…US turning the corner and coming back to God! Right? For us grace is understood in the “oops” of the moment. We make a mistake, we acknowledge it, we seek forgiveness and we move on knowing full well that God’s grace has been given unto us. But I think we’re missing the severity of God’s grace. The power of it, the scope and magnitude of it…the radicalness of it.
For us, grace is powerful…but grace is seen and experienced by people who are daily in repentance. Daily in seeking restoral and renewal. This is why I think we kind of lose, in definition and understanding, some of the power of grace. That doesn’t mean grace has lost its power – I simply think we don’t understand the MAGNITUDE of God’s grace!
But I also think we have a love-hate relationship with grace – something that is hurting our concept of God’s grace. I think grace is that truth and hope and life-stiring that we hold to and yet we don’t fully allow grace TO BE grace. Either we feel we are too far for grace to reach, or that God has given up and deemed us “un-graceable” children, or we preach it to others and remind them of God’s grace and encourage them to drink into grace but we don’t drink it fully for ourselves. We’ll pour that nice cold cup of grace to someone who is feeling like they are in the burning infernos of hell for what they’ve done and yet we personally will not drink from that same cup because we’re stuck in our own pit of infernoness and for some reason we feel that grace simply isn’t offered to us. That even in the most knee-bending, face-falling, repentance seeking portions of our life God just can’t reach, forgive, love, and look past what we’ve done.
What we’ve now done is redefined grace by our OWN standards and defining it by what we FEEL
We forget that grace is bigger than us, wider than us, taller than us, and deeper than us. Not only is grace bigger than us but it isn’t defined by us, and it is not contained by what we do and don’t do. Nor is it limited in its “graceness”. Think of grace as an iceberg. What we SEE is not really the magnitude of it.
It seems like we’re quick to be reminded and affirm that God does not allow the guilty to go unpunished, which is true, but we MUST also see that God does not allow his love to be withdrawn or his forgiveness to be tossed aside. His mercy to does not relent, nor will his grace not fully be utilized. This is why the story of the prodigal son is so amazing (Luke 15:11-32) – not because of words said and actions taken by the son –but because the grace that was simply already there and poured out in his love to his son. It’s this “radical grace” that the father has that no matter what was done or said…grace, by all accounts…was, and is…amazingly on display.
We need that radical grace. More than that – some of us need to be reminded of God’s radical grace. That you may feel you don’t deserve it…but grace isn’t defined by you or what you think you deserve or not deserve. And your thoughts are not going to put a limit, or damper on God’s grace.
If we fail to allow God’s grace into our lives then we belittle what Christ has done. We say his death on the cross was almost enough for my sins but not quite enough. That the pain he bore was almost worth the price. That in fact God’s anger has NOT turned away, that we will NOT dwell in his presence, that grace and mercy are NOT for me, and that the divine faithfulness of our Triune God is in fact a sham.
But that in fact is exactly what grace is – love and forgiveness and grace and mercy given to those that struggle to accept it, have problems recognizing their receiving of it, and yet drink it in every day. Isn’t it? The fact that grace happens is a miracle in and of itself – but the fact that grace comes to even those that disregard it and struggle with it…is exactly why we get it and why we need it. The fact that this relationship is NOT a two-way street, that our faithlessness is not working against us, and that Christ’s atonement IS MORE THAN ENOUGH, is the only hope we cling-to in life. Our futures would be dark, distraught, and ending in death…but instead, because of the work of the cross, because of the faithfulness of Christ, because of the love of the Father, because of the consistent work of the Holy Spirit we have hope and a future. John 1:4 reminds us that in all this darkness, we are given life and light in Jesus Christ.
But here is also where we understand the depths and radicalness of God’s grace. If God’s grace was strong enough to forgive the Israelites who blatantly gave God the middle finger day in and day out (read the prophetic book of Hosea for that one) – then his grace is more than sufficient for you. If God’s grace covered the sins for all those who break covenant every day (which, last I checked…was me and you) then his grace is more abounding and fuller and deeper than any sin Judas would have committed or anyone else today – for we affirm that just as God has us all stand before him in judgment this also means that we stand before him in his grace too. I think that’s something we all need to be reminded of when we look at other people – and when we struggle with our own sins.
God’s grace is radical and I think it needs to be because we, you and me, are pretty good in our use of hate, anger, and animosity towards others but we are ALSO painfully bad in our seeking forgiveness for ourselves and our past.
Radical grace? Perfect grace. God’s grace.
Just my 2 cents