Real Grace

The word “grace” has significant meaning for our relationship with God, ourselves and one another. Grace is God’s love offered. As a gift is freely given, so grace must be received to be appreciated. God offers us something beyond ourselves, yet within our reach. The power of this gift called grace, grows when we truly understand how it works in connection with faith and trust.

Grace is a Person:

God so loved the world that He gave us the gift of His only Son (Jn 3:16-17). Jesus is the gift of grace to all mankind. He is the way, the truth, and the life of God, given as the full representative of grace. Through Jesus, God comes to us and reveals Himself to us, because we cannot by ourselves find God. Jesus as our advocate with the Father comes to help us know Him and believe in Him as He really is. We cannot do this by our human limitation, because we get so blinded by carnal perception. We need God’s grace.

Religious Perceptions:

Religion can be negative to our perception, as it creates a way of seeing through boxes of morality, judgment and expectations. In fact, so many people are bound to religion that Christianity is often defined more by what it rejects than what it believes.

If we are sinful (and we all are), we may not want to come to God, thinking that God is unapproachable and will punish us for our sins. We may get the idea that we must be “good enough” to be acceptable to God. But this is where grace becomes so significant. Its the gift of God!

Understanding Mercy:

All sinners experience guilt, brokenness and emotional pain. But faith is our humble belief in God’s mercy. Mercy is simply God not giving us what we deserve so that grace can become visible. When we understand mercy, we naturally turn toward the one showing us that mercy. This turning is an act of humility, because we recognize the favor (grace) being shown us is undeserved and it causes us to feel like a burden is lifted from our shoulders. There are all kinds of burdens that mercy lifts when someone favors us.

Clarifying Our Focus:

It is important that we reject sinful behavior, but never reject ourselves or the person we see sinning. Unfortunately, in real life, many of us have the tendency to blend the two into one: we often associate the behavior with the person. In this way, we become condemning and judgmental, hypocritical and proud.

This is where God’s grace becomes visible. Jesus is not a policeman, but an advocate. An advocate is somebody who pleads the case for mercy and stands on behalf of the guilty before the accuser or the judge.

Restoration and Hope:

In the parable of the prodigal son, the father is not judgemental and condemning, but a restorer of broken relationship. Jesus tells us, he throws his arms around the returning son and kisses him, while his servant is commanded to prepare the house for a party.

Consistent with Grace:

Jesus would have us see God as the waiting Father, who runs to embrace the son at the first sign of his turning toward home. “This son was lost, but now has come home! Bring out the robe, the ring and the sandals, for my son was dead and is alive again. Prepare the fatted calf… tonight we feast!” (Lk 15:20-24)

Walking in Real Grace:

The other son is caught up in the epic battle with religious seeing and self-righteous attitudes. Jesus does not approve of that moralistic attitude, because it is hypocritical. In offering grace to others, Jesus wants us to embrace people at the first sign of turning toward home. Its not that we condone what they have done as much as we embrace who they really are. He wants us to know that grace is God’s unconditional love revealed at the first sign of humility. The Apostle Peter said “…be clothed with humility, for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble” (1 Pet 4:5).

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