Grace. It's God's greatest gift to us. We sing about it. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound; that saved a wretch like me." It's the foundation of Christianity. That God sent Jesus to undeserving people like us.
I like to talk about grace. Talking and writing about grace helps me feel like I might be getting my head around this concept. Because most of the time, I don't feel like I "get" it.
Grace is undeserved favor. Grace is God doing something for us that we can't do for ourselves. In the most basic form, God sent Jesus to die for us so that we can go to Heaven. John 3:16 (say it with me, now) "For God so loved the world that he have his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life."
But, that's just the skeleton. Grace is God's wondrous love that surrounds us and holds us up every day.
Grace is the beauty of the lightly falling snow today.
Grace is Ashley cooking delicious Chinese food.
Grace is PWM's love for his students.
Grace is a doctor who cares that I have pain and wants to alleviate it.
Grace is all these things and so much more.
But what trips me up all the time is that God's grace is, by definition, free. Ephesians 2:8 says, "For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God." God gives us the faith to believe, but I have trouble with accepting something free.
Maybe it's the perfectionist in me, but I feel like I owe God something. Yes, God wants our obedience, but we don't owe it to him. 1 John tells us that our actions display love because God is love. Our righteousness is a natural outflow of our relationship with God.
With the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus, God wiped out all of our sin. And we had to do nothing.
That's grace. And that's amazing.
And I still don't have my head wrapped around it.
It's one of the glorious mysteries of faith.
It's OK, though. It's one of those mysteries I'm willing to accept.