Lately, I’ve been thinking about grace.
If I had to explain my faith to someone else, that is where I would start.
It isn’t enough to think that Jesus was a great speaker, a great man, a great teacher, or a historical figure. It isn’t enough to have a strong moral code, however that might be defined, if a person is to truly call herself a Christian.
To be a Christian is to call upon God’s grace and to know that nothing of my human actions or accomplishments alone could ever make me pleasing before Him, apart from my faith in Christ.
If I didn’t cling to Christ’s promise that he would cover sins and failures when I asked Him into my heart, then I would be a hopeless case as a Christian because I have stumbled many times. I’ve made many mistakes, and I’ve learned a lot about my own pride, but the trick is to continue to have faith and hope.
It takes courage to think that way instead of becoming cynical when life gets tough.
I want to do my best for Christ because of his gift of grace to me. This gift came when God sent his son, Christ, to die on the cross for my sins – sins that are part of the human nature that so often is focused on self, money, or the outward appearances – to give us a new way of thinking and a home in heaven someday.
Yet, I am human, so I won’t always have the right words or the right motivations behind my actions unless He helps. I often remain quiet because I am not sure what to say in different situations.
Although some people see it differently, I choose not to be political in my faith because I believe both parties have their issues, and I do not worry too much about religious denominations. I also am not offended if a Christian wants to have a glass of wine sometimes. Again, some Christians would see it differently, and they should live according to the convictions that Christ is placing in their lives. Much like C.S. Lewis, I prefer to focus on what we have in common as Christians – the things that really matter concerning love and faith in Christ.
Christ’s love and grace is open to anyone who will call upon Him genuinely to receive it. It’s open to anyone who is willing to follow Him and seek His guidance (which often comes through prayer, reflection, and reading the Bible) rather than follow our own whims.
A beautiful image that comes to my mind when I think about grace is in the Christian writer Jean Fleming’s book, Pursue the Intentional Life. I highly recommend her book, by the way. She writes about seeing the mighty long-winged albatross birds that spend 18 months at sea, touching down only on water, which makes them lose their ability to make smooth landings on soil. They glide above turbulent seas, and they actually thrive in storms, yet when they return to the land to nest and lay their eggs, Fleming writes that they land “like drunken sailors, tumbling, skidding, crashing, earning these regal birds the epithet gooney birds.” Here is Fleming’s analogy for the Christian life concerning these birds:
“Old thought patterns hinder [in Christian life]. Maybe my stumbling, tumbling times train me in sustaining grace… . Though I want to soar, maybe God will make me, like the albatross, fruitful even after a crash landing. Isn’t that like Him? Isn’t that grace?”
What a beautiful thought! I won’t put any limits on what God can do and who He can use to accomplish it.
Ephesians 2:8-9 (NIV) For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Hope you will pursue the intentional Christian life this week! Also, I really encourage you to check out the link that I’ve included about Jean via The Bloom Book Club. This is the third online study that I have participated in through Bloom, and each book that is chosen is truly mind-shifting.