Why is it that grace is so hard to live with? As followers of Jesus we receive grace from God. This is really good news. It means that Jesus has taken away all of my junk, dealt with it and brought me into a living relationship with God. This message is truly liberating. It takes the emphasis off me trying to strive and reach my way to God. It’s not about what I can do but all about what Jesus has done.
I believe whole-heartedly in the truth of this message but I also find it hard to live with. What I mean is that while I believe the message of grace I often find myself trying to earn it. Last week I wrote about the beauty of intimacy with God. I wrote how we often see ourselves through the eyes of self-hatred but when we allow it God sweeps us up into his beauty. Today I want to explore living in light of his grace – his beauty.
Trying to earn God’s grace is impossible. No matter how hard you try it will never be enough. Sometimes I wonder if it is his grace that I’m trying to get. From the outside, it probably seems like we are all grace chasers but I’m not quite convinced. I can only speak from my experience but I don’t think it is grace I’m chasing after. Rather I think it is my image. I know grace is a gift from God but rather than celebrate in it, I try hard to make sure things are right. Deep down it isn’t grace I work toward but making sure I look good.
In his blog Michael Patton writes how people in churches wear masks. They clean up their image, say and do the right things but it is all fake. Of his experience in Alcoholics Anonymous he writes:
‘I have entered into a group that is real . . . I mean really, real. This does not mean that they are comfortable with who they are, but they know who they are . . . at least more so than I have ever seen in a church setting.’
He’s not being unnecessarily critical of the church but goes on to express his desire to see it change. I agree with what he is saying.
Today I left my phone at home. And I did what came naturally to me – I started to beat myself up. Not just about the forgotten phone but about so many of the things that I just forget and neglect. It’s so stupid but forgetting my phone had the potential to completely derail my whole day. It’s just a phone! I made a conscious decision to choose grace. I returned home and said sorry to my wife – not just about the phone but the whole pattern of forgetfulness that causes unnecessary stress and disappointment for her.
My hope for the church, no my hope for me, is that I will be a person who knows who I am. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to change, but I also don’t want to hide. I want to be a person who is authentically real and able to share my struggles and wounds because I know the One who is also at work in my life. I want to celebrate in seeing God bring grace in the midst of my faults. Instead of pretense, I choose grace. How about you???