Wednesday, November 4, 2015

A Humbling Grace

Once upon a time, a young woman sat and pondered the meaning of grace. She grew up in church, had heard many sermons preached on grace, and yet the context in which she began to hear it changed over the years. Had she truly ever understood it, or was it simply becoming a word overused by society that diluted its meaning? When first learned, grace was equated with the feelings of humility and unworthiness. Its casual use over time evoked feelings of just the opposite, deserving and worthiness.

What is grace after all? The google dictionary definition of grace within the Christian belief is the free and unmerited favor of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings. As scripture tells us in Romans 5:1-2,
"Therefore, since we have been justified through faith we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God." 
Dr. Michael Youssef proclaimed in his sermon series on Pursuing Godliness in a Godless World that grace is an "offering or revealing" of the Lord's forgiveness granted to His children. Therefore, those who have yet to receive the Spirit are not living up under grace.

If the above is true about grace, then what do people mean when using grace in these contexts?

A family is blessed with a child and a neighbor says: "What a sweet gift of grace you have been given!"
According to the definitions above, grace comes through Christ, not a child. In our world, grace has become a gift of anything that can be seen as a blessing. Though a child is a blessing, and one like grace, that may evoke feelings of humility as christian parents often think ourselves undeserving of such a precious gift, the child is still not grace itself.
After visiting with a friend, upon leaving one says: "Praying you are showered with grace this week." 
As a believer, I don't know quite how I would respond to someone telling me he/she is praying I am showered with grace. Yes, the Lord gives me grace daily. His grace is His forgiveness. When I hear it used in this context, I can't help but think that the person is praying I am forgiven all week long. I don't mean to sound self righteous; I know I am a sinner and I need forgiveness. However, to be told this makes me think I must be doing something wrong to that person that I should seek his/her forgiveness. I completely understand that this is not what the friend's intent was. This is just another scenario that comes to mind of society misusing the term grace.
A Christian says to an Atheist coworker after hearing that she found her stolen purse: "So glad you got your purse back! What sweet sweet grace?!"
Finally, this last context ruffles my feathers. As Christians, we should know that we as children of the Lord are up under grace. An atheist has never experienced this. Grace is specific to our religion. It is not something just anyone experiences. No matter how much we wish all our friends and family were living up under His grace, not everyone accepts Him. In scripture, it is black and white. We either surrender ourselves to our heavenly Father and are therefore accepting His gift of grace, or we deny Him. Grace is offered to anyone and everyone that receives Jesus Christ. If His grace was given instead of offered, we would all rejoice in heaven together one day. The Lord gave us free will, and with free will it is up to us to choose whether or not we accept Him. This whole statement above is completely wrong. Not only can an atheist not experience His grace unless surrendering to Him, finding the purse for even a believer is not grace. Again, grace is forgiveness. Grace has nothing to do with whether or not a purse was found and returned.


Friends, I understand that we are not perfect. I don't mean to point fingers or pass judgement. I simply want those of you who stumble upon this post to think about grace. How do you use it? Do you understand it? As I pray, I can't help but feel overwhelmed by what God has done in my life and how truly undeserving I am of all of the blessings that He has showered me with over the years. His grace is the first blessing that comes to mind. No matter where I fail, how many times I fall down, or make a wrong turn, He is right there offering His grace (His forgiveness), picking me back up and molding me into the woman He wants me to be. I pray that when He offers His grace to you, that you know what it is and surrender to Him.




 Grace Like Rain- Todd Agnew

Scripture:

"But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ- by grace you have been saved- and raised us up with Him and seated us with Him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages He might show the immeasurable riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." Ephesians 2:4-9

"Let us then with confidence draw near to the thrown of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need."
Hebrews 4:16

"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will Himself, restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
1 Peter 5:10