- Tabitha Caplinger
Grace is a Person
I feel like given the timing of this post, especially coming the day after the presidential debate, that I should be talking about politics and patriotism or some such thing. That I should share my opinion on National Anthem protests and police shootings. I'm not going to. Don't get me wrong, I have opinions, big ones, sassy ones. But at the end of the day my opinions won't change anything...grace will.
I'm not talking about kindness or patience with each other, though those would be welcome, I am talking about the unmerited favor, the undeserved forgiveness and mercy of God. All of the broken pieces of our world can be summed up in a need for God. The contempt and division and hate and fear are all just symptoms of a sin issue in our hearts, of the chasm between us and Him.
Politics will never be able to heal the hearts of man...Grace will.
For those whose feathers are already getting ruffled because your in the "we have too much grace talk" camp, calm down. First of all we can never have too much grace. We need it. We are sinners and we can not earn salvation on our own. Not possible. No amount of good we do will bridge the chasm sin created. Worrying that grace talk will somehow mean forgetting the truth of our need for holiness comes from a wrong view of grace. We see grace as a concept but it's really a person. Grace is Jesus. Jesus is grace. And Jesus is also truth (meaning the two go together, check John 1:14). But you don't get to the truth part without the grace part.
I have been reading Jesus Is by Judah Smith. (If you have read it then you know I am totally piggybacking on themes in that book here. But its good stuff and in case you haven't read it I'm writing this post.) He talks about how when we realize that grace is a person we are less likely to abuse it. He speaks of his wife and how much she loves him. He would never say that because she loves him so much he can cheat on her, because she will forgive him. Not that some wouldn't say it but you get the point, that sounds ridiculous when talking of one's spouse. It's equally ridiculous when speaking of Jesus. When grace is a person who loves us and leads through His love for us we are less likely to abuse that love relationship.
We can't earn brownie points with God that get us a better spot in heaven. We can't be good enough on our own to keep our salvation. Salvation is the gift of God so no man can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9) When I do good it isn't because I'm trying to earn something, or because I'm afraid of losing something, but because God loves me and I love Him and I want to show that love and respect that love.
Second of all, we need to understand grace not fear it. When we understand grace then we understand how to extend it to others. No, we are not Jesus, we don't save anyone. Our rules and politics won't save anyone either. Grace will. We need to learn to see people as they are, not by our warped standard of goodness or rightness but as people, like us, who need grace. Until they experience, I mean really experience (not just know about) grace in the person of Jesus then soul transformation, the kind that heals hearts won't happen. And until hearts get healed contempt and fear and division and hate will continue to occupy our country and world.
Rather than shouting our opinions perhaps we should shout the message of Grace. For those now getting your feathers ruffled because you "have a right to freedom of speech and that means sharing your views and opinions" I also say...calm down. You're right, you have the right to share your opinions but if you are a Christ-follower you have the responsibility to share the Gospel. It trumps everything (pun not intended). If my opinions can't be shared in a way that won't sacrifice the Gospel message then they need to be kept to myself. I am a follower of Christ before I am an American or a Republican or a Democrat.
If I believe God is who He says He is and that He is in control and that He loves this world, including me, then I don't need to rant out of fear of election results. How that must wound the heart of Father God when we react out of fear rather than living in faith and speaking hope. We have hope. We should be the ones filled with peace at the prospect of the future because God is already there. When you speak your opinions they should always be filled with that peace, with the hope of a God who is in control. Of a God that loves no matter political affiliation or past mistakes. We need not fear but we should lead the way to the solution.
We have the answer to all the world's problems...we need to share it...we need to live it...it is grace...it is Jesus.