I've been a good girl my whole life. I've been told that Jesus needs me to work hard for Him and that my responsibility is to live a holy life so He isn't shamed. I've been trying. For 27 years, I've been trying.
Yesterday, I laid against Aaron's chest and cried. I have been feeling guilty about our trip to Europe. Why should we spend so much money on ourselves when there is a dying world out there? How can we be so selfish? As these thoughts took on words, I realized something else, something very huge. I still believe that I have to earn God's love. I haven't yet graduated to debt free. I am never done. The balance never swings to green.
If I have a few more people over for fellowship...
If we give a little more of our monthly income to the poor...
If I spend a half hour more in the Word this morning....
It nearly bowled me over to realize that most of the time, I feel as if God is disappointed in me. That He is up in heaven, shaking His head as He watches me scurry around, whispering to Himself, "She just doesn't get it."
No. I don't get it.
But not in the way I thought I was missing it.
I found Romans 3:23-24 this morning, and read it slowly. I know the verse by heart. I bet you do too.
"For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus."
I grabbed the Greek dictionary off the shelf. What is the word for grace? It is charis, and it means "graciousness: acceptable, benefit, favor, gift, joy, liberality, pleasure."
God was pleased to offer me grace? It was a pleasure to Him? He liberally bestowed grace; He gave it as a favor, as a gift; it brought Him joy to give it???
Why does all of this sound like a foreign language to me?
I think the church today is afraid of grace. We are afraid of it because we don't want to encourage anyone to be flippant, to think they're okay when they're really not. So instead of starting with grace, we start with rules.
But the problem is, no one's life is ever transformed by rules.
I would venture to say I'm not the only one who thought she had to start with the rules.
I'll bet I'm not the only one who's burnt-out, tired, scared, and a little bit bitter.
And I know I'm not the only one in desperate, desperate need of grace.
We have to start with the too-good-to-be-true. We have to start there. All else is death. The truth that Jesus has done everything that we could never do. The truth that we are already good enough, already loved enough, already free enough.
Does that make you want to shout or not?
LET ME SHOUT IT FOR YOU: EVERYTHING THAT YOU THOUGHT YOU NEEDED TO DO TO PRESENT YOURSELF TO GOD IS WORTHLESS. YOU DON'T NEED IT. HE HAS DONE E.V.E.R.Y.T.H.I.N.G.
For those still worried to talk too much about grace, to give people too much license, I say this: grace motivates us to live for the one who gives it, something a list of law can never ever do.
Grace. It is really for you. It is really for me.
Jesus, help our unbelief.