Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!
II Corinthians 9:15
Through use and misuse the word “grace” has lost much of its power and astonishment. We still sing “Amazing Grace” but are not so amazed. Grace sounds good in theory but it’s often denied in practice. Paul said, “you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ”, but do we? Do we receive His grace to the depths of our souls so that we live freely and lightly in His never-ending love? We sometimes doubt that God really loves us, forgives us, and accepts us just as we are. Christian living slips into fevered, wearying performance rather than living confidently in God’s grace.
Thankfully grace is more than a word, an abstract noun, or infusion of spiritual power. Grace has a name, and the name is Jesus. Jesus is grace wrapped in swaddling clothes lying in a manger. He is God’s “indescribable”, “too wonderful for words” gift from God. God crossed over the great divide, coming down to us and finding us where we were. God entered into our history as a fragile baby to reveal to us His tender heart: “I love you, I forgive you, I accept you just as you are, and I will never let you go”.
Jesus did not come to show us what to do; He did it for us. That’s what Christmas is all about. Someone else has done all the earning that is needed. Jesus took to Himself our sinful humanity, our brokenness, so that we might share His life and glory. The Son of God became the Son of Man that we might become the sons and daughters of God. Jesus calls us to repent, to change our minds about the bad news that we don’t measure up. Rather, He calls us to believe the good news that we already belong through Him. Jesus comes inviting us to the party. We are the party!
The good news is not that we have to make ourselves better, but that Jesus comes to live His better life in us. He wants us to live in His goodness, His power, His faithfulness, and not our own. He takes away the strain and burden as we discover, “I can’t, but Jesus can!” There is wonderful simplicity in trusting Jesus to be our all in all. It is His life in which we live and experience the overflow of grace through us to the world.
Grace is not merely the starting point for the Christian life but that which sustains us all the way through. We will never progress to a point where we will not need grace. And God always delights in showing grace. Thus, we live “under grace” (Romans 6:14-15), “by grace” (Ephesians 2:8), “through grace” (Galatians 1:15), “in grace” (II Timothy 2:1), and “with grace” (Colossians 4:6). We know that where “sin increased, grace abounded all the more” (Romans 5:20). Such an “indescribable gift” as this can never be comprehended or exhausted. We can only know it by receiving.
- Do you ever expect to arrive at the point in your Christian life when you won’t need grace? Explain.
- Today’s reflection suggests that sometimes “Christian living slips into fevered, wearying performance rather than confident living in God’s grace”. Does that ever happen to you? Take a moment to talk with God about this.