9.05.2006

Grace Is Not. . .

I feel judged when I try to obey Christ. Now, before that's interpreted as an egotistical, Pharisitical phrase, let me clarify and say that my frustration has absolutely nothing to do with my attempts to live a perfect life. It has everything to do with my trust in a Savior that enables me to lean on grace. And as an example of my need for mercy, sometimes I have angry words I need to get rid of, and now's one of those times.

Heaven forbid I try to live my life to please Christ, to bear fruit, lest it be considered as an effort to attain salvation!

I think my frustrations came about when my eyes were first opened to the differences in denominational beliefs, and the different attitudes that came about from a particular emphasis or perspective on God. I suddenly noticed that cheap grace does exist. People actually lift up what they call "works" to a place of sin, almost making the assumption that if anyone makes an effort to bear fruit in their life, to obey Christ, then they don't have a proper understanding of grace. Has it gotten to the point that, I hate to say it, but, obedience is sinful? If so, what does it mean to suck the blood of Jesus and live by his flesh, if nothing changes as a result of him in our life?

I am motivated by love, therefore I seek restoration. Grace is both my reason and strength, but it is not the end. It is what holds the universe together, but it is not the meaning. It is the solution and power that enables us to keep on keeping on, to persevere, to encourage, to be strong . . . but when grace comes to its full fruition, it is because we have come to understand love in its fullest, most eternal capacity: we will worship face to face with our Creator--the God of the Universe, the God of us, the God of Love.

4 comments:

joanna said...

you have put to words the frustration in my heart that began when i joined a particular denomination years ago. it always frustrated me that there was the assumption that we "sin everyday in word, thought, and deed"... yes i do sin everyday, but we are no longer slaves to sin! we are the free sons and daughters of our beloved King... and as we behold Him more each day, we are transformed into His likeness... from glory to glory, or as i like to say; from less crap to less crap.

salvation is not personal.

after all this time, i know now that we are not only "saved from" but we are "saved to"...

...chew on that one for a bit


[amy, i love you, think of you nearly every day, and i will write soon... keep writing my dear sister]

Becky said...

Good thoughts - yet so often we point to others as the receivers of cheap grace and consider ourselves - the "truly honest about our relationship with God" - as the ones "truly worthy" of grace, which is obviously an immediate contradiction. This happens regardless of whether others are blatantly disregarding God or making extra efforts to please him - we criticize them because we either feel we are better or are aggravated at how other people's devotion might make us look to God.

How important it is that we remember Grace is not our action, it is God's work for us!

Perhaps what is most miscontrued in churches and between denominations is not our relationship with God because of Grace but our relationships with other people. Just a (few) thought(s)...

P.S. Amy, you said that "[Grace] is what holds the universe together, but it is not the meaning." A possible topic for your next blog could be what you think the meaning of the universe is in relationship to God's purposes for it.

Alaina said...

It is an unfortunate day when our conception of grace disables us from actually living in it and expressing it.
Living the Christian life is often like walking a tightrope. If grace as the means of salvation is at one end and if obedience as the expression of our salvation status is at the other, both must be pulling against one another fully in order for the walk to be safe. The tension between grace and works is so crucial that if we loosen on either end even for a moment, we will fall. Even the most experienced tightrope walkers fall. That is why there is a net.
And perhaps in falling we experience, and live, true grace.

I suppose that this is better explained when accompanied with a visual. Happy use of the imagination or utter confusion.

Amy said...

i appreciate the comments. above all, i savor grace. still, sometimes i just want to cut the careful doctrine crap and get to what it means to be a disciple, not a believer. the two are vastly different. prime example. tonight in Bible study we read Acts 5 about Ananias and Sapphira. I was familiar with the passage, but confused until tonight. The section is an extreme "law" passage, but the section afterwards--that's where the purpose comes through. the way halfhearted believers were afraid to be thought of as believers b/c they weren't 100% there boggles my mind and convicts me. Above all, i am who i am today, and i can do what i do today for Christ, b/c of Christ. It started with Christ. I will never deny that. But i will defend life transformation and lifebearing fruit and that it has to be an individual's daily choice for the rest of my life. There is a distinct difference between a believer and a disciple.