Growing In Grace

The sermon from yesterday is still really working on me.  I have a feeling that spending time under the scalpel of the Spirit through Paul’s letter to the Galatians is going to tear me up, transform our family, and radically alter our church.  This is a good thing, and it is a hard thing.  I feel like I’m on the edge of understanding a whole new depth of who God is, and who he is towards us.  I want to go to the mountain top, ala Moses, and plead – “Show me the glory of your Grace!”

I offered a definition yesterday of grace.  It was from William Hendrickson:

God’s grace is his active favor bestowing the greatest gift upon those who have deserved the greatest punishment.

As we talked about the sermon tonight in our family worship time, something simple but deep started to emerge in our conversation.  What would it look like if we actually believed that God looked at us with a similar pleasure, love, and acceptance that he does of Jesus?  I am intentional in those words.  I say similar because, of course, we are not Jesus.  So how he views is not the same, but it is similar.

Friends, this is the message of the Gospel.

God is actively, constantly bestowing his favor upon us in that he sees us clothed with the righteousness of Christ.  Every time he looks.  He isn’t angry.  He isn’t disappointed.  He isn’t frustrated that we aren’t quite measuring up to his expectations.  We are IN Christ.

Think of it another way.  Imagine a father who is teaching his toddler to take his first steps.  Over and over again, he holds the child’s hands, moving him, wobbling as they go, across the living room floor.  He releases the child, and he immediately falls to the floor.  Over and over they move through this routine.  The Father patiently, lovingly showing the his child how to walk.  His expectation is that the child must do this.  Must learn.  Must grow.  But he delights in the process.  He sees the child trying.  And when he takes those first steps, three…four…five…and…plop!  He scoops the child up, throws him into the air with shouts of glee, celebrating what he had done!

The father is not upset when, at the next attempt, the child fails again.  Maybe only takes three steps.  He knows it will come.  He is patient with the child.  He does not cease in his teaching, because his expectation is that his child must one day walk for himself.

I think that God is like this with me in the process of growing in grace.  I don’t think this is original with me, but this thought comes to mind:  God is easy to please, and hard to satisfy.

That is his grace, his active favor.  He delights in the small improvements, the small steps of growth.  Even those are due to him and for his glory.  In this way he is easy to please.  But, he is hard to satisfy.  He wants more.  He demands that we fully depend on him.  That we rest in him.  That we utterly give up all reliance on our own performance, and depend solely on Christ alone.  That we walk. Do not kid yourself, this is not easy.  He said that he will have to make you perfect.  He means not to remodel the house (you), but to tear it down and completely rebuild it.

One final thought as we continue to tease this out.  There is a very strong enemy in this fight – the legalist.  The idea of giving up on our works can be scary.  All our insecurities flare up.  We want the comfort of rules and structure and performance because we are so used to depending on those measures to define our standing before God.  It is those things that have been our identity.  But that is a grave error, and a misunderstanding of the Gospel.  Our identity is in Jesus Christ.

Can you imagine what life would be like lived in this truth?  Can you imagine what a community of people living like this would look like?  It would look and smell of grace.

More to come.  Sorry, it’s not clearer.  Hey, I’m in the process of learning this with you.

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