I have been thinking through how we should extend grace to people who are grace-less. So I wonder how we extend grace to those who might be more interested in expecting perfection in all that you or I say or do. The problem (as you probably have guessed) is that I’m about as close to perfect as I am close to Neptune.
It’s funny how we can talk a lot about grace as Christians and still do not quite get it. We discuss it, sing about it, and read about its power, but still something is missing. We miss out on the radical notion that God comes to us not expecting us to get our acts together. In fact, he comes to us and knows that we will fail time and time and time again.
Perfection is exhausting and trying to have it all together is not very fun. But in Jesus, the good news is that we don’t have to get our act together!
I find comfort in the story of Abraham, where he was called to follow God and trust in him. Yet this pillar of the faith failed and failed again. He heard that God would provide a son through his wife, yet he chose to father a son with his servant. He feared for his life when he entered a foreign land, so he lied about his relationship status with his wife and twice almost had his wife taken as a bride to another man. Yet the amazing thing is that God still used him! In fact he believed in God and it was accounted to him as righteousness.
In spite of his mess ups, God worked through Abraham.
You see my friends, being good does not arise from our own abilities. Don’t exhaust yourself, because perfection will never show up this side of the grave.
In the timeless classic Knowing God, Anglican theologian J.I. Packer wrote that “One can know a great deal about godliness without the knowledge of God.” Isn’t that the truth?
It is possible to be such a wonderful person crossing all the t’s and dotting every i you encounter and still miss out on who God is. This is an individual who chooses to be good and please God out of fear or social expectations.
Doing “good” for others is great; please don’t misunderstand me on that point. However, when we put our unattainable expectations of excellence into the realm of faith we usher in a total catastrophe.
Friends: In a desolate land, Jesus stands and offers us a cup of cold water without any strings attached. All we need to do is accept this gift of incredible grace. We don’t need to pay for it and we certainly don’t have to work for it, all we need to do is accept it.
Thanks be to God!
How do you live with grace-less people?