Thirsting for Grace
“The world thirsts for grace in ways it does not even recognize,” says author Philip Yancey. Is he right? I think so. If we define grace as getting something we do not and can not earn or deserve, we all know we need it. We need grace from other people and, most of all we are in dire need of grace from our holy God.
The good news of the Gospel is grace is offered, freely, endlessly, through Jesus Christ. He left heaven, took on human flesh, lived a perfect life, taught us what grace looks like, then died a sacrificial death, was raised for our justification, ascended to the right hand of God the Father, and now invites us, by grace alone, to join the family of God. Free gift. Nothing we earned. Nothing we could earn.
In virtually every religion in the world, humans must do something to earn their god’s approval: good works, almsgiving, prayer rituals, attendance at certain services, and so on. Christianity is different. Grace rules. When we recognize our need and our complete inability to fix the sin problems in our lives, we turn to God. Instead of meting out punishment, He sends us to Jesus who says, in essence, “You are forgiven. Your sinful debt has been paid. Welcome into my family.”
Now, as James says in his epistle, our acceptance of that forgiveness, that grace, will result in a changed life. We will want to read God’s Word, want to talk to Him in prayer, want to be with His people. But our outward actions do not earn us grace, instead, they are evidence of grace at work in our lives.
Because of God’s great grace toward us through His Son, we are commissioned to be grace-carriers to others. In fact, He expects no less.
Jesus expressed it in the parable of the Good Samaritan. To His 1st-Century Jewish audience, Samaritans were not acceptable. They were seen as people of mixed-pedigree, theologically wrong, and to be avoided. But the hated Samaritan showed compassionate grace to the wounded Jew and that concept was shocking to those who heard Jesus’ story.
I have to ask myself who today’s “Samaritans” are to me? The addicted? The uneducated? The poor? Those of a particular nationality, religion, sexual orientation, or political persuasion? Maybe these are just the people to whom God wants me to show grace. Are there people or segments of society who need your grace today?
The world thirsts for grace. If those of us who have been graced by the Triune God don’t show it, who will?
"This is the Beloved of our souls, ‘holy, harmless, undefiled,’; ‘full of grace and truth’: . . . full, to a certainty of uninterrupted communion with God . . .full, to a readiness of giving supply to others. . . full, to a perfect victory. .full to an everlasting monument of the glory of God, in giving such inconceivable excellencies to the Son of Man.” – John Owen
*John Owen, Communion with God (Fearn, Ross-shire, Scotland: Christian Focus Publications), p. 115.