"What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us." -Emerson

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Grace...

I LOVE presents! I mean any kind: big, small, in between. The present itself doesn’t really matter. It is just the idea that someone knowingly, willingly, consciously thought about me and what I would like and put it in a box and tied it with a bow. I try to hide it with a coy, “oh, you didn’t have to get me anything!”, but deep inside, I am thinking Thank God you did! If you have ever read The Five Love Languages, the language of gifts is at the top of my list. I show and receive love through presents a lot of times. My favorite type of presents aren’t the birthday ones, or the anniversary ones, it’s the “just because” ones. You know, the unexpected, with no rhyme or reason, didn’t know this was coming or I would have prepared a more joyful and elated reaction instead of the shock and awe response I am having, ones. Those are my favorite presents to receive.

I think my love of gifts really made the concept of “grace” quite easy for me to grasp. After all, grace is the kind of gift I most cherish. It is the unexpected, undeserved, “just because” present I love to unwrap. I’ve heard it said that grace is “getting something you don’t deserve.” Man, if there is something I love, it is getting something that I hadn’t necessarily earned, that doesn’t cost a thing, and that is mine for the taking.

Christians use the words “God’s grace” a lot and I think it is one of those things that many non-believers, those new to the faith and the spiritually mature often don’t quite understand. We hear that we all have the gift of God’s grace, but what does that mean? What does it mean to receive something from Him that we don’t deserve?

“Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all men, because all sinned— for before the law was given, sin was in the world. But sin is not taken into account when there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who was a pattern of the one to come.
But the gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God's grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many! Again, the gift of God is not like the result of the one man's sin: The judgment followed one sin and brought condemnation, but the gift followed many trespasses and brought justification.”
Romans 5:12-16

Sin came through Adam. We all, from that point on, could not be the perfect individuals God had created us to be before Adam and Eve fell. We weren’t meant to know the pain and torment that we all know now because of sin: sins we’ve committed, sins of our fathers, sins of the world. We were never supposed to know this kind of pain. But, since we did know it, God gave us a gift to get out of it. A way to not have to pay for the wages of it. He gave us a gift, an unexpected, undeserved, “just because I love you” gift through the death of His Son.

The best part is this isn’t a one time only gift. It is the original gift that “keeps on giving.”

“[But] where sin increase, grace increased all the more.”
Romans 5:20

Have you ever heard the phrase, “The higher you climb, the harder you fall.” God’s grace is a lot like that. If you wake up one morning and realize like I do everyday, man, I have royally made a mess of this one! If you look at your life, your past, your choices and have the constant what was I thinking thought, you are a great candidate for a whole lot of grace. God will always give us something we don’t deserve in the midst of the giant, muddy mess that we have created down here on Earth. It is the gift of His Son to save us from ourselves and the disaster we’ve created.

“In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.”
Ephesians 1:7-8

He picks the most foolish of us to shame the wise. He selects the weak ones to shame the strong. He chooses the unimportant, non-influential, the lowly and despised, the undeserving ones to do the most incredible of tasks. He gives us His undeserved favor so that we can show a broken, messed up world that yes, it is true, you aren’t going to make it out of this place alive, but you can make it out with life if you just choose to take the unexpected, “because I love you” present that He has placed in our hands.

Grace is a gift. It is one we didn’t earn. You don’t have to be “good enough”, you don’t have to add notches on the ol’ Christian belt with how many nice things you’ve done or people you’ve brought to Jesus, you just have to accept it, unwrap the bow, and open the box.

Here’s to the gift…

Until next time,
-C.

1 comment:

Bum said...

we are taught that we receive God's grace through the sacraments.