God is Gracious

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people.
It teaches us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope—the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.
Titus 2:11-14
Imagine as a teen, you really messed up. (It can’t be that hard to think of a time, we have all been there!) Sitting in your room, you are waiting for the hammer to drop from a parent. Your parent comes in the room, sits down beside you, and simply says, ‘I am disappointed in you.’ It sears through you like a hot knife. Your parent continues, ‘I want you to know you crossed a line, but I forgive you, and here’s some money to fill up your tank and go out with your friends tonight.’ It’s one of those moments where you wonder if you are on camera, or if this was some kind of joke. Your parent continues, ‘What you did was wrong, you really messed up, you really hurt me. But I forgive you, and not only forgive you, I want to gift you something. I want you to have this money and spend time with your friends.’ That is underserved, unearned favor, and a lesson in grace.
It’s hard to describe God’s grace. Sometimes grace can stand alone for what it is. For example, in Romans 6, Paul is describing how God’s choice is based on grace and not works. Paul says ‘And if by grace then it can’t be based on works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.’ Grace stands alone here as underserved, unearned favor from God. Sometimes grace can’t stand alone, it is part of a bigger picture. Grace, this undeserved and unearned favor, can’t be disconnected from God’s justice, mercy, love, kindness, wrath, sanctifying work, etc. All of those function with and because of God’s grace.
Grace is one of those attributes of God that we can reflect to a watching world. We reflect it in two categories. The first can be displayed by how we treat our fellow believers. Christians don’t always score high marks in grace toward each other. Many of our critics point to all of the different denominations, which is a hasty generalization. Denominations exist for good reasons; I think how we treat each other cross-denominationally can certainly fall under scrutiny. Grace also shows up in the second category in how we treat those outside of Christianity. I don’t think we have a great track record in showing grace to those who are radically different than us, it shows in our language of ‘culture war’. We need to remember our fight isn’t against flesh and blood and we can respect and love others, even if we disagree with them, because of grace.
Questions for reflection:

  1.  Why is grace hard to implement in our lives?
  2. How do you show grace to someone even if you disagree with them? 
David Flug | Community Life Pastor

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