There is hardly a more scandalous topic that we naturally want to disagree with than the topic of grace. Grace is simply defined as unmerited favor given to us, in spite of us. Because grace is something that has been given to us and not something that was achieved by us, we are ironically positioned to not accept it or live by it.
Grace is a gift to us that did not originate from us. We had absolutely nothing to do with it. It was not our talent, energy, ability, charisma or connections that allowed us to be undeserving recipients of grace. Grace works through you to produce fruit that did not originate from you. Paul says that we are justified by God’s grace which is a gift (Rom. 3:24). He also says that grace is a free gift given to us (Rom. 5:15). We have also been saved by grace through faith. This is clearly not our own doing. This is a gift of God and a gift from God. And this is precisely the reason why we find grace so scandalous.
We would much rather have grace be a product of something that came from us not something that was given to us. If we achieved it, we could claim that it was our own effort that obtained this unmerited favor. We could then boast about it and be boastful with it. We could tell others of how well we performed for Jesus in order to receive this grace. Naturally, this is much more pleasant for us to do. It goes against every fiber of our existence to give someone else credit for something that we have become recipients of. Because if grace is not our achievement we are not able to hang up this accolade upon our wall of awards we tend to amass. All credit goes to Jesus Christ and His death on the cross in our place for our sin.
James, Jesus’ brother says that every good gift and every perfect gift is from above (Js. 1:17). So when we look at the perfect law, the gospel, the law of liberty (Js. 1:25), we see that grace falls under this category. Grace does not fall under the category of our own generation or our energetic production. It came entirely from God. We however would much rather be under the law than under grace. Why? Because it is much easier for us to accomplish a set of rules than be used by God in an infinite amount of ways.
We are much safer with the law. Just tell me what to do and I will do it. In fact, I will do it better than everyone else. I can be extremely competitive and I will come out on top. Nothing will distract me to be so zealous about fulfilling the law that I will stop at nothing to accomplish it. Is that not what Paul did? He said about himself that he was advancing in Judaism beyond many of his own age. He says that he was extremely zealous for the traditions of his fathers (Gal. 1:14). He was so enthusiastic about fulfilling the law because he had full control of doing the law.
We love law more than grace because we can control the law and make it work towards our advantage. We are afraid of grace because there is no limit to what God can do through us with His grace.
- Grace is uncontrollable because we are not in charge of it.
- Grace is limitless because we can’t contain it.
- Grace is scandalous because it removes from us any limitations.
- Grace is risky because we are not capable of managing it.
- Grace is reckless because we are not ready for the aftermath that comes with it.
- Grace is outrageous because it does what it wills whenever it wants.
- Grace is hazardous because the steering of our life has been surrendered to our Creator.
When we are under grace, there is absolutely no limitation that is set upon us. This makes us very afraid. We do not want to venture into the unknown. We are very comfortable in our tepid love seat of law. We have the remote control in our hands and we can switch the channel any time we want.
Grace grips us to stretch us beyond our wildest imagination. This is all done for the glory of God, by the grace of God. When the grace of God is evident in our life, we are not able to take credit for it, no matter how much we want to.
We must be passionate about this grace that saves us. We must love grace that stretches us beyond our human limitations. We must thirst for the work of God to be made manifest in our life through His grace for His glory. We must be a people who have repented of living under the law and embrace the reckless character of grace.
- The law says, do this and then you will be saved.
- Grace says, Jesus has fulfilled the law on your behalf.
- The law says, the more you do the bigger reward you will get.
- Grace says, being able to acknowledge Jesus as your Lord and Savior is alone a sufficient reward.
- The law says, rely on your human ability in order to accomplish divine goals.
- Grace says, believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and allow Him to work in you and through you.
- The law says, make sure everyone knows your intellect level in order to give you the credit you definitively deserve.
- Grace says, freely you have received, give freely to others who are in need.
- The law says, do not go above your ability to perform.
- Grace says, God will do through you that which is beyond the confines of your ability.
- The law says, perform with clenched fists and white knuckles.
- Grace says, function out of the performance that Jesus accomplished on your behalf.
- The law says, your performance determines your salvation
- Grace says, Jesus died so that you would receive salvation
God loves us with a reckless kind of love. A love that humanely speaking, does not make any sense at all. He sends His beloved Son to earth, to be brutally murdered on a cross. This was done in order that grace would flow freely unto us.
- We received grace instead of wrath.
- We received eternal life instead of eternal death.
- We deserved unending torture. We received unmerited favor.
This grace that saved us is scandalous. It is also a grace that is mighty to save. Let us embrace it, live in it and function from it.
Question: What about the scandalous nature of grace do you find most unbelievable. How has your understanding of grace changed the way you worship Jesus?