Monday, October 19, 2015

Why I Hope I'm Always "Into Grace"

    When my mom introduces me to friends from church or other Christian people she knows well, she introduces me as her child who is "more into grace". In my circles (very conservative baptist), that's an allegation that usually results in some raised eyebrows or awkward silences. We've all heard the stories of those people who consider themselves "under grace" and thus free to sin, and I can see those stories floating through the minds of everyone who hears that introduction!

    But there is a reason I've never asked my mom to stop introducing me that way, though it is awkward sometimes when you are visiting with someone who believes that what cards, staying up past 11:00, not praying before meals, and listening to music with a beat have in common is that they're all sin. Honestly, I hope I'm known that way my whole life; that Taylor guy who is really into grace.

    I've said it before and I'll say it again: I hope I never get over grace. I hope I never get too mature in my walk or too established as a Christian to simply sit and ponder in wonder the grace of God. I've lived as a Christian who didn't really understand grace for too long not to appreciate the freedom, the liberty, and the incredible love God demonstrates to us through His unmerited favor.

    My life is an unfolding testament to the grace of God. The day I get over grace is the day my spiritual life dies, because without grace, there is no life to our faith. Our faith is only alive to the point we realize how small we are and how great our God is. Off that point hinges everything.

    In order to understand why I'm so "into grace", we need to take a moment and look at what exactly I was before grace found me. Let's see... most people would answer that as "we were sinners". But that doesn't really do justice to the full severity of our situation. The Bible more aptly describes us as "haters of God" and unable to do what is good. Slaves to unrighteousness and the flesh. Dead in sin. Cursed by the law, we were hopeless.

    Ponder that for a moment. And if your situation wasn't bad enough yet, let's just examine what else we know with the specifics. We know that since each of us has sinned, we are guilty of having broken the entire law. In God's eyes, you, my formerly unsaved friend, were equal with the murderer, the thief, the rebel, the homosexual. You were guilty of the whole law and defiant of the good God who had prescribed it. You were incapable of doing good. Your nature, in fact, was not only bent toward evil, but enslaved to it! It took no free will to sin; in fact, by our free will, we chose to sin!

    Is this picture black enough yet? I don't think so. So after thousands of years in sin, slaves under the law, finally the Redeemer comes, the one who can save us from all that. And what do we do? We crucify Him. We beat Him, torture Him, execute Him, mocking all the time. We blaspheme His name and position as God.

    Do you see why I feel the injustice in summing up our fallen condition as "sinners"? That, my friend, comes nowhere close to the depth of our depravity before a holy God we spurned! Sinners, in fact, feels like a promotion after glancing over our old nature's resume. After reading that, we should feel quite happy with the title of "sinner".

    But this is where grace; reckless, wild grace enters the picture. That God, the One we tortured? That God took our natures, our sinful, rebellious natures and took them on Himself. He became sin. In every way that sin is sin, Jesus Christ became literal unrighteousness for us. He became sin in order to once and for all destroy it for those who were murdering Him.

    And in doing so, He grants us life. Not only does He take our sin, but He gives us righteousness. He, the ultimate perfection, grants us His own goodness and declares us righteous. Legally justified. Free. Redeemed. And He ushers us into the grace that forever declares us His, bought with the blood we so freely made flow.

    But He doesn't stop there. As if that's not enough, He continues lavishing us, adopting us to become His children. The beneficiaries of His grace, His mercy, His love. Here we are, the sinners, redeemed. Here we are, the rebels, justified. Here we are, ragamuffins, lost in the grace of a wild God.

    There's a scandal in that story, a scandal that causes many to turn their backs on the gospel of radical grace. See, our minds tell us that falling for that story makes us a sucker. It can't be true. God can't offer free grace. We have to do something. Maybe it's a teeny, tiny thing, but at least something! Anything to rid ourselves of the scandal of freely offered grace.

    What's this scandal I keep referencing? Quite simply, God broke the rules. The world we like says tit for tat, fair for fair. But God broke the rules. God rewarded us for nothing we did. God did the unfair, the unthinkable; so unthinkable, in fact, that millions in America and across the world deny it because it's simply too radical to believe. God has made us as righteous as He? Not just theoretical righteousness, but real, literal goodness?

    But what about me? What about my part? What about earning it? Don't I have to do something at least? Can't I do something to keep from this great debt? Maybe we'd prefer a business partnership, where I do at least something and God rewards me. But that's not how He works.

    He rewards your nothing with everything. Nothing you did merited it. Nothing you can do can repay it. You're lost, hopelessly lost, in debt to a merciful God who saved you in spite of yourself.

    I hope I never get over this. I pray I never forget who I was and who I am in Christ. I hope I'm always that guy who's into grace, who can't talk about it enough or listen enough about it. I hope I never stop enjoying it, the freedom it brings to serve Christ, to reflect Him through my faults and my weaknesses as He shapes me into His image.
                                                      Jesus + Works = Nothing
                                                      Jesus + My Acts of Love and Service = Nothing
                                                      Jesus + Pure Thoughts = Nothing
                                                      Jesus + High Standards = Nothing
                                                      Jesus + Nothing = Everything


  1. I think the thing I most appreciate about your blog is the call to remember- remember who we were, who we are, why, and what our Savior calls us to. We all know these things, but they get lost in life sometimes, and I really appreciate the earnest reminders of why we are here on earth! :)

    1. Thank you for your kind words, sis! Thank you so much for the part you played in helping me understand these things as well!

  2. I love your writings, Taylor. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us today. You always cause me to think deeper!

    1. Hey, Mum! Thanks for commenting over here! I don't think I've seen you over yet!