Tuesday, September 18, 2007

grace needed

If there's one thing we need more than anything else throughout our lives as humans in this world and in our present existence, it's grace. Grace is God's gift of saving blessing, undeserved and unearned by us. It is grace given to us in Jesus and because of what he's done for us in his work on the cross. It saves us from missing why we were created in the first place.

We need this grace from God, and then we extend this grace in Jesus to each other, as well as to the world. It simply means that we stand condemned because of our sins but in Jesus forgiveness is offered as a gift. If any Christian may think forgivness is needed only before becoming a Christian, we neither have read scripture well, nor do we really know ourselves sufficiently.

It is important for us to be giving and offering the grace we have received and are receiving from God. We're in the fellowship of the undeserving ones, and our relationship with each other is of the same kind of importance to God as our relationship with him.

Extending grace doesn't mean rubber-stamping what my brother or sister in Jesus does. But it does mean never holding one's actions or sin against them, and knowing that we need the same grace from them originating in God through Christ as we extend to them. This is an ongoing, reciprocal daily need and reality.

And to the world of people we need to extend this grace in Christ by how we live and relate to them, as well as introducing them to the one with whom saints and sinners felt strangely, and might I say at times uncomfortably at home. This grace ends up being a communion in which we're changed, a communion we need in Jesus for continued change, as long as this life endures. Grace from God in Christ is there for us, when all might seem lost, besides.

What would you add to these rather random thoughts on needed grace?

14 comments:

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

It's funny - what you are writing about, I would call mercy - not getting what you deserve, i.e. hell - and would call getting what you do not desire, i.e., something good, grace.

But, either way, I agree with you. We need to both receive and give both.

I love the phrase, "strangely,...uncomfortably at home". That is so very true. Sometimes I know I am "at home" in his presence and it's pretty uncomfortable because I am so very aware of who I am.

Allan R. Bevere said...

"Extending grace doesn't mean rubber-stamping what my brother or sister in Jesus does. But it does mean never holding one's actions or sin against them, and knowing that we need the same grace from them originating in God through Christ as we extend to them. This is an ongoing, reciprocal daily need and reality."

Ted, I like your thoughts here. It conveys the idea that grace is a transforming thing, not simply something we soak in without any change on our part.

In addition, the notion of reciprocity is important as well. Grace means also that we hold each other accountable, not as people who are morally superior, but as those who stand equally in need of God's tranforming grace and one another's love and support.

NaNcY said...

we need to know that we are well thought of to be able to know that we can please our God. if did not have Grace from God we would be useless to be used by God because we would be defeated, destroyed, unable to preform.

L.L. Barkat said...

I can't resist saying this...

I will add a whole book, come March. The subtitle that finally got settled on was "Finding Grace in Hard and Hidden Places". And I must say that the writing was a wonderful experience of delving into not only the initial saving aspects of grace, but also its generative qualities in life and regenerative qualities regarding the past.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, One's awareness of their sin seems common in scripture, when in God's presence. Of course it might become common and everyday as with Jesus' disciples.

Mercy and grace in scripture overlap in meaning quite often, though I really haven't studied that out- but that's what I've either read or been taught. We use "grace" and "mercy" in the ways you describe, and I know Awana defines them like that.

The thought of reciprocity that Allan also alludes to is fresh on my mind from rereading Miroslav Volf's "Free of Charge: Giving and Forgiving in a Culture Stripped of Grace" (hope that's the correct title), an excellent read- as really are all three I've been in lately.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Allan, Excellent and wonderful point you make in the end. We really need to be upholding each other in prayers and in love in our lives. And we all need that, both giving and receiving on that. Could this be a major reason why so often we seem, and churches often seem so spiritually anemic?

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Grace from God in Christ does mean that God considers us special to him. If we can just lay hold of that, and really believe it, it could make a big difference in our lives in helping us lay hold of, and live in the grace of God for us in Jesus, surely.

Ted M. Gossard said...

L.L., I'm greatly looking forward to buying and reading that book. I hope it's your first of more to come! And what a great topic to help us!

Finding grace in hard and hidden places. Sounds more than intriguing to me, and I know it's right where I live.

Halfmom, AKA, Susan said...

I agree - the lack of giving grace, and prideful unwillingness to receive it, both from God and others, does make us spiritually anemic and quite pitiful - harsh and hard.

Seems to me that I have a rather armadillo like quality about me of curling up inside my shell in general and not allowing God's grace to wash through and over me and show me who I really am - so I guess I wouldn't say that seeing my sin, even in the presence of God, has become at all commonplace. Quick self-condemnation is a cheap substitute for saturating grace and its revelation.

NaNcY said...

i think that even the word "grace" sounds beautiful. it is such a revolving mystery. i can not see all of it , just parts of it, a bit at a time. what is this grace that fills us and wraps us up in the Love of God? what is this wonderful thing that is called grace.

NaNcY said...

“I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are but does not leave us where it found us.”
Anne Lamott

Ted M. Gossard said...

Susan, Yes, I'm sure what you describe is the experience of us all at times and more than we imagine.

I'm amazed at how in God's presence we can be weeping over the revelation of God and of ourselves, yet carry on the following week in a manner not much if at all different than before. Somehow this grace must be ongoing for us, and our hearts open. Some of the pain folks go through doesn't make that easy. Think of Job and many of the psalmists. God surely wants those of us who are in that boat to not give up, but wrestle through into God's arms of love and grace and mercy and peace.

Ted M. Gossard said...

And Susn, I really appreciate your thoughts here. Good things to think about.

Ted M. Gossard said...

Nancy, Thanks for sharing that on grace. We shouldn't take it for granted, but we ought to marvel over it. It does have many facets to it, and is certainly beyond our comprehension.

And thanks for the good quote!