Lately, one word has been bombarding my mind. I have seen it everywhere. I have heard about it or spoken to people about it.
Funny little word. Some people define grace as the prayer before they say before meal times. It can also be used as a name. Many of us think of the song Amazing Grace. It is also one of the main elements of Christianity, well actually it describes an action.
Grace is twofold. You cannot earn it, but it costs you. To accept the grace of Jesus Christ costs you your life. To believe you have been saved by grace through faith means you are somewhere along the discipleship continuum.When you are somewhere along the discipleship continuum you are being changed. You are being changed not by your work or action, but by the Holy Spirit. Continual surrender and self denial manifests itself out of love. Love that Jesus demonstrated on a cross for you. Instead of death and eternal separation from God, which we deserve, we have access to eternal life through Jesus (Romans 3:21-26; 6:22-23). In essence, defining grace as an act of love through receiving a reward when punishment is due. This idea, this action, completely reworks the idea of justice.
In my brokenness, this is a hard thing to swallow. I want to be able to work for it. I want to be able to justify some reason that I deserve such a gift. But I can’t its free. Grace is the ultimate act of love.
Yet, at the same time it costs. See when you accept Jesus’ free gift of grace you are accepting His commands, His lifestyle, His attitude, His Spirit (1 John 2:4-6). That lifestyle, that way of thinking is much more difficult than the ways of this world. Acceptance of His grace is accepting death to yourself. The call to accept grace is the same call that He extended to His disciples when he started His ministry. It was a simple two word call, “Follow Me.” When the first disciples left their homes it cost them something. It was going to cost the rich man something (Matt. 19:21). The reward they got in return was more than they could have ever imagined and soo worth it! Grace was part of the discipleship process! it wasn’t always first and it doesn’t always come later, rather it permeates the whole process being at attribute of love.
Therefore go and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you and surely I will be with you always to the very end of the age (Matt. 28:18-20)
As we call people to follow Jesus, we must show teach them about the free gift of eternal life through Jesus–grace–while telling them the cost of surrender and obedience to the narrow road (Matt. 7:13-14). All this must be done with love!
My deepest fear is that in today’s world we will show someone Jesus with all benefits and no cost. That we will only present the acceptance of grace, without the surrender of life. My prayer is that this does not happen.