“Grace is meaningless if we just do whatever we feel like and expect God to bless it. That isn’t grace. Grace is that, by God’s love and kindness, he forgives us and makes it possible for us to live our lives to the fullest. God’s grace means that, instead of leaving us to destroy ourselves, God makes us partners in this work of restoration and redemption that we call his Kingdom. We get to be part of lives becoming whole and so full of God’s love that they become contagious–beginning with our own.” (Grace is Greater: Matthew 25 and loving Jesus)
So much of what I’ve grown to learn and believe on my own about grace and faith is packed into that little paragraph. (Thanks, Mike!) These ideas have all come to me at different times over the years and from a variety of sources. So, where to start?
First off, one of my main life verses (and the tagline for this blog) is John 10:10 when Jesus says, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Learning just what is meant by this statement and then how to live it out in my life will take me a lifetime I’m sure. In the meantime, I love the reminder that it is possible to do so – that our life wasn’t meant to be boring or stressful but was meant to be rich and full and inviting.
That last idea of our lives being invitational to others, or as Mike put it “contagious,” is not a new one to me but is something I tend struggle with. I sometimes feel like I don’t have anything to offer others or that I’ve made so many mistakes that I should be taken out of the running. But grace in the answers to both these issues!
First off, I don’t have anything to offer others. All I can give them is “Christ in me, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). Grace says, “Lord Jesus, I can’t, You never said I could; but You can, and always said You would. That is all I need to know” (The Saving Life of Christ). I first heard this phrase by Major Ian Thomas when attending a Torchbearer Bible School more than 15 years ago. It has helped me remember to take the pressure off myself on many occasions since then.
Also, I know I’ve made mistakes over the years but I’ve come to realize who hasn’t? Here is a quote by Madeleine L’Engle which speaks to this:
“In a very real sense not one of us is qualified, but it seems that God continually chooses the most unqualified to do his work, to bear his glory. If we are qualified, we tend to think that we have done the job ourselves. If we are forced to accept our evident lack of qualification, then there’s no danger that we will confuse God’s work with our own, or God’s glory with our own” (Walking on Water: Reflections on Faith and Art).
God’s work and God’s glory. Both tie in with this section from Mike’s paragraph on grace, “God makes us partners in this work of restoration and redemption that we call his Kingdom.” And if that isn’t grace — the idea that the Creator God chooses to partner with us in this life — then I don’t know what is!