“Amazing grace! how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.”
“Grace” isn’t about going to charm school or being diplomatic or speaking with sophistication.
It’s one of the most misunderstood words in the Christian experience.
Grace, by the biblical definition, is unmerited favor. A cop stops a reckless driver, then doesn’t give him a ticket. We’re naturally alarmed, maybe even outraged, to hear of such a lapse in law enforcement. And yet that is exactly how Jesus responded to me! Jesus didn’t have to — He didn’t have any obligation to me whatsoever. I don’t deserve His love. I couldn’t earn His love. It doesn’t even make much sense for Him to love me. He just decided to love me …
An outrageous decision.
And He didn’t love me nominally, or even adequately. He loved me extremely — going all the way to the cross for me.
The apostle Paul — whose memories of his own past as a murderer of Christians must have stung him — celebrated the stunning grace of God in his letter to the Italian believers at Rome:
“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly,” he said in Romans 5:6-8. “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
Grace alone doesn’t even seem to communicate the amazing extent of what Jesus did for us. Maybe we should call it “radical grace.” It’s beyond the scope of our natural instincts.
And yet … it’s our example. As I go through the week in this imperfect world, I have countless opportunities to manifest radical grace!
That co-worker who infuriates me … would I die for that person?
The people/friends/acquaintances/church-goers who failed to respond to my needs … do I still love and pray for them?
God’s grace is a mirror. It’s there for me to hold up in front of myself — so I can compare the incredible love of Christ toward me to the love I’m demonstrating toward all these “sinners” around me.
My prayer this week: Lord, how can I demonstrate grace? It’s not in my nature. Please infuse me with such a continuous sense of the enormity of your love for me, and the extent of my “undeserving,” that I will respond to others more gently and lovingly.