Posted by: alliehope | August 6, 2008

Amazed By Grace, again

I checked my Facebook page a little while ago, and a friend of mine had posted this video. Just seeing the images reminded me of the horrendous suffering that Jesus went through to make grace available to us–the savage beauty of His pain and brokenness to make us whole. Needless to say, I cried.

But the tears weren’t just in amazement at the lengths to which God went to redeem us. My tears, I confess, were about just how callously I look at the cross, for my forgetfulness of its shame and suffering. And then, as I watched the video, it hit me: it is this callousness that has allowed me to grow cold in my walk with Him, to believe that I can just do whatever I want, and there are no consequences for my actions. I don’t have to spend time with Him; He’s just going to be there for me regardless.

Everything else in me says that this is a load of bull(blank). After all, Paul tackles this question: “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Paul’s question here is a fantastic one, and one that hits me below the belt: if this grace is true, why am I going back to living in the very thing that I am now supposed to be dead to?

It’s almost like a kid after he’s had a bath, jumping back into the mud in the backyard. Mom/dad will get ticked of course, but the kid doesn’t care. He lives in the moment, getting as dirty as he darn well pleases, knowing that even if there’s a consequence, mom/dad will still clean him up. It never occurs to him that mom/dad might leave him to figure out how to clean himself up.

Fortunately, God isn’t that kid’s parental unit. God doesn’t leave us to figure out how to clean ourselves up. Just watch that video to understand the length He went to in order to give us the means to come clean, whether we’ve messed up 10 times or 10,000 times. It’s not about how much or how badly we’ve messed up, it’s about how much we need Him.

I’ve come to realize that I need Him more now than I did when I first surrendered, since the battle I’m fighting against sin is frightening sometimes, sometimes to the point when I find it easier just to give in and commit the sin than it is to surrender that moment to Christ and let Him have His way in me. This is frustrating to me, and it shows a huge shortsightedness about the destructive nature of sin, and forgetfulness of what Paul says next: “Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life (Romans 6:2-3; emphasis mine).

That’s the hope of grace for those of us who are Christ-followers: we have the possibility, no, the reality of living a new life because of grace. No matter how much we keep messing up, no matter how badly. God is not impatient with us, nor will He one day say “I’ve had enough of you acting like My grace doesn’t matter. Get yourself out of this one”. The beauty of it is that “as far as the east is from the west, so far He removes our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12). As soon as we confess our sin, whether it’s an attitude of ingratitude, judgment, whatever, it’s gone! We don’t have to look at it, since God has cast it far away from Him.

That’s the beauty of the cross: that we can keep coming back, dirty-faced, scraped-kneed, split-knuckled from trying to fight Him, and He will always take us back. This was something that came to me like a refreshing breeze on a hot summer day as I watched the YouTube video that started all of this. And so I can only pray that I never take His grace for granted, knowing the price He paid to make it available to us.

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