As we grow in our knowledge of the Gospel of Jesus it’s so important that we also grow in our understanding of Jesus’ loving sacrifice for us personally. The gift of His perfect and holy life, not only as an example for us to follow, but the invitation to relationship with God the Father is what it’s all about. In my own life, times that I have been most effectively used by God relates directly to my belief in God’s immense love for me. In contrast, when I do not believe and receive God’s love for me, life’s challenges begin to speak louder than His voice. I believe for us to be able to receive, believe, and walk in God’s love is the message of grace.
Grace is the central theme and message of The Good News. It cannot be put in the periphery of the Gospel in any way because grace is what makes it all possible. It’s because of God’s free gift of grace that we have eternal life with Him. We, as a church body, become very accustomed to the foundational teaching of the Gospel and so we can often take for granted the reality of who we are in Christ. A new creation, filled with the Holy Spirit, and a son/daughter of the God of the universe. Let that sink in. As a believer in Jesus that is who you are. No matter what circumstances you are in or how you feel. Our God is so much bigger than how we feel! At times, when God is moving in us, we feel very deeply, but that does not mean the lack of feeling Him changes who He is and who we are as His sons and daughters.
In the book of Galatians, we see that the people of Galatia were doing religious duties of the law and trying to earn their way to God through works. There is no chance we can ever earn our way to Him! Galatians 2:16 (TPT) says, “…we don’t receive Gods perfect righteousness as a reward for keeping the law, but by the faith of Jesus the Messiah! His faithfulness, not ours, has saved us, and we have received Gods perfect righteousness.” It’s not our Bible study, time of prayer, fasting, serving others, ministry positions or anything that can make us earn more love with God. It’s only possible by the same thing that will never separate us from God-His gracious love (Romans 8:35-39).
Grace was not just a message that Paul taught, but it’s also how he dealt with the churches who were deceived. There was confusion in the early church with mixing works as a way of earning our salvation. There was also teaching that certain sins were acceptable in the church. Paul handled this with words of blessing and peace. Paul showed grace to the church, not by condoning and accepting their actions (this is the false grace that can cause confusion if we are looking through a tainted lens of sin), but by walking with them in the truth and by giving them correction and teaching. Lack of grace causes us to either dismiss others or agree with things that are not God-honoring. Living in grace gives us the freedom to walk with people through challenges. After all, this is what Jesus does with us every day.
When we first moved to Mexico last August, we saw motorcycles and mopeds flying all over the place and it was very appealing to me because it looked fun and it meant less walking in the heat. With that in mind, I was interested in getting one. So one day after school my friend Gaby, who works at Manantial School, offered to let me try his moto out, so I did. But I had never driven a moto like this before. When I sat on the moto I was a little nervous, but thought, “how hard can it be?” I had seen young girls driving these things all over Puerto Escondido. Gaby gave me some advice, “Just give it a little”.
Just give it a little gas, and I did, but not little enough! I went flying into a parked truck in front of me, bounced off the truck and went sliding into the ground with the moto. Not quite what I hoped for. After I got up, I realized that my pants were torn all the way up the seam and Gaby’s moto had some small scratches and dents. Oh man, I felt so bad and was nervous that Gaby would be upset about his moto. I didn’t even think about attempting it again. Instead of frustration and anger, Gaby’s first response after I got cleaned off was, “OK, go again.” After he gave me some more advice, I went again and this time it went smooth. My wife and I went and bought our own moto a couple days later. Without his gracious response and urging to try again, I don’t think I would ever try to drive another moto. If it were not for grace, all of our stories would have a drastically different ending.
How can we be a people that just pour out grace on others like Christ does to us?
We must remember that our brothers and sisters in Christ are all at different places in their walk. Jesus is emerging and working in different areas of our life at different times. So, how can we honor the Christ that is on the inside of our brothers and sisters and trust that He will complete the good work that he started? I believe the only way is by realizing Jesus’ grace for us personally. To live in that truth, the truth of His abundant grace we have in our life!
Nate Tew, missionary in Puerto Escondido