For the majority of my life, I’ve never felt deserving of grace. I allowed myself to be marked by decisions, works, and capabilities—all done by my own strength, timing, and power. If I got into the best university, got the perfect job, married the right man, had the right life, then I’d be deserving of what God offered me. It was all contingent on my actions and not screwing any of it up; there was no room for anything less than perfection. This is why understanding grace is so difficult for me, even now. The whole idea of getting something so beautiful and priceless, with no strings attached, is a concept that I cannot fully wrap my head around. God’s unrelenting, inexplicable, and constant grace for me sounds too good to be true. I feel as though I don’t deserve it.
And here’s the truth: I actually don’t deserve grace and neither do you. The gift of grace, accomplished by Jesus Christ’s death on the cross for us, will never come close to anything we deserve. We have not, cannot, or will not do anything that comes remotely close to deserving Jesus. It’s that simple.
But here’s the rest of the truth: Grace is given to me anyway, even though I don’t deserve it. And when I keep thinking, “Well, I definitely messed this up” or “God can’t possibly forgive me for this”, I devalue God’s unrelenting, inexplicable, and constant grace. I have put grace in a box and done away with what Christ’s work on the cross has done. I’m acting as if the cross isn’t enough for me.
I’ve been working for Awakening Church for the last nineteen months, and I’ve said this before, but ministry was the last place I ever thought I would be. Before these last nineteen months, the concept of grace was far off and unreal. My relationship with Jesus was quite evident through my works, and that’s about how deep it went. Don’t get me wrong; I loved Jesus. But my view of grace was skewed because I was operating out of the value my works had in living up to what God offered me. Since August 2012, God has been shaping, refining, humbling, and breaking me down in ways I thought were impossible. I’ve seen more pain, brokenness, hurt, betrayal, and shame in these past nineteen months than I ever have in my entire life. In these same nineteen months, I’ve also seen more redemption, healing, forgiveness, restoration, peace, and grace. Jesus has shown up more vividly and clearly than I’ve ever seen him. And I see the cross differently because he is more real to me.
I know grace is still undeserved by all people; but I also know grace is never far off. In his book Counterfeit Gods, Timothy Keller writes, “If you want God’s grace, all you need is need, all you need is nothing. But that kind of spiritual humility is hard to muster. We come to God saying, ‘Look at all I’ve done,’ or maybe ‘Look at all I’ve suffered.’ God however, wants us to look to him.” Friends, it truly is that simple. The grace that is so freely offered and given to us has the power to bring about life change. We only need to admit we need it.
In 2 Corinthians 12:9 Paul reminds us that God says to us, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” It’s reassuring to know that we will always be weak, imperfect, and undeserving. It gives weight to the truth that Jesus is enough. He is all we need. When we have nothing to offer, the cross will always be enough.
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