I understand what grace means but I have to admit, I am not sure what it looks like. I know that grace is unmerited favour but I fail to fully grasp the resulting actions. It is possible that I am the only Christian that finds the scope of grace and the accompanying behaviours difficult to define and the only pastor who feels inadequate when it comes to this. With these shortcomings I hope you are willing to extend a little grace to me or it might as well be the end of this post.
Unmerited favour must be more than letting me off the hook.
I celebrate the grace I have been given. I bask in the thought that someone could do something for me based not on what I have done or deserve but on how much they love me. In my human weakness I miss the breadth and depth, the width and height of God’s love-motivated, unmerited favour. My small mind focuses on the fact that I am forgiven even though I have done nothing to earn that forgiveness. I limit God and His actions to the function of letting me off the hook without paying the price for the sin I have committed which would best be described as unmerited forgiveness. Unmerited favour seems to be much more than that.
Unmerited favour can’t mean out of sight out of mind.
People like to say God forgives and forgets as if He suddenly comes down with a case of memory impairment or experiences concussion like symptoms. This is not the biblical premise behind the way God treats our sins. When we sin we create a deficit in our perfection. God, because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, looks at the deficit in the Christ follower’s perfection as paid, and the debt is forgotten and perfection is restored. The debt may be forgotten, but the sinful action is not. I know this sounds like bad theology but bear with me.
Unmerited favour is more than unmerited forgiveness.
I have taken a juvenile attitude toward my salvation for far too long. In my immature approach I have viewed God’s grace as taking care of my need for forgiveness and sending me on my way as if nothing happened. A drop of Jesus’ blood here and piece of broken body there and all is forgotten – wow, so simplistic, so incomplete. God’s grace is much more than my rich dad paying yet another one of my debts. His unmerited favour is the perfect example of the actions a loving father takes when he desires the best for his children.
My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)