One of the major obstacles in understanding grace is the fact that we tend to relate to God the same way we tend to relate to one another.
Someone has to suffer when we have been wronged. We want them to pay for what they have done. This kind of thinking makes it difficult to imagine how God can so freely extend mercy, forgiveness and grace to us when we are so hesitant to do so with others. Surely we have to suffer. Forgiveness can’t be that easy. Grace can’t be free … or can it?
The Old Testament Law was a set of more than 600 rules you had to follow to be right with God. We understand that system. It makes sense to us. The problem was that no one could ever fully keep the entire Law.
So God sent His Son to fulfill The Law and then He introduced us to the age of grace. But we have a hard time making that transition. We talk about grace, but then we try to make our own law. We adopt our own set of unspoken rules. We say things like, “God, I’m going to work a little harder. I will pray a little more. I will give a few more dollars. I will try to be in church every Sunday for a month. I’ll try to do something nice for someone today.”
All of these action words miss the point of grace. We think we can work, pray, give, try and do more. If we can just do these things, surely God is going to love us that much more. If we don’t do these things, He will be unhappy or disappointed with us. We don’t seem to understand God’s unconditional love.
God’s grace sounds wonderful and we desire it, but grace seems too easy. It sounds too good to be true. This kind of thinking causes us to miss the point of grace completely and it keeps us from experiencing the life-changing reality of God’s amazing grace.
There is nothing I can do to earn it and it is a gift that no one deserves. God’s grace is a gift that we must learn to accept. There is nothing I can add to the grace of God. There’s no co-signing on my sin debt. There’s absolutely no mutual participation. We need to be reminded that grace is a gift and God’s grace plus anything we bring to the table isn’t grace at all.
You may read Steve Greene’s blog at pastorgreene.wordpress.com or you can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.