We all want it. Every person who ever walked this earth desires experiencing Grace. I promise you that’s a true statement. Sure, we want fairness and justice. We crave love and hope. Happiness is high on everyone’s list too. I’d take a new car if it was given to me. But above all, we want to experience grace. We don’t know we want it, well, because we don’t really know what Grace is. We’ve got all these words and desires…but we don’t know how they fit together.
We just moved into a great new house. I don’t like moving. Its hard work. Its exhausting work. Packing and unpacking, dismantling and rebuilding, it takes forever. You got to start with priorities. The first thing that went up in my new house…the TV! I had carefully dismantled the mounts and brackets, delicately packed everything, and safely transported my precious 55” baby and its smaller brother to their new home. As I pulled pieces out to begin rebuilding the mounting brackets, I quickly realized the folly of trashing instructions. I had brackets, bolts, and a pile of metal that made no sense…but I knew they could be put together to form at least two TV brackets and a multitude of other support components. I had pieces…but I didn’t know why the mattered. I had pieces…but in my failure to understand how they fit I couldn’t experience what they could do.
Many of us live our faith like its a pile of parts that haven’t been put together to accomplish their purpose. We Christians are notorious for spouting a bunch of good “bible” words. We talk the talk but often get blamed for not walking the walk. Sadly, many of us have really dishonored Jesus because we fail to match what we know we should say with what that means we should do. I think part of the problem is that we don’t really know what we mean when we say what we do. Like my pile of pieces…we know they go together but are at a loss as to what it really means.
‘Grace’ is one word that is loaded with incredible meaning. When we say we want to connect with God, what we really mean is that we want to experience God’s grace. So much more than a simple child’s prayer before a meal, God’s Grace captures the magnitude of God’s love, Jesus’ sacrifice, and the Holy Spirit’s presence in our lives. Our experience of God’s Grace is why we wake each morning, marvel at a majestic mountain view, receive salvation through Jesus, and grow day by day in our faith. Without God’s Grace…we wouldn’t exist. Grace is that big!
So what is Grace? Grace is God’s undeserved favor. Let me put that definition in context. Suppose you loan me your car and I wreck it. Experiencing Justice, in this situation, would require I cover the costs of the damage I caused. Justice means I get what I deserve…its fair. Experiencing Mercy would require that you forgive me and don’t require me to pay damages. Mercy means I don’t get what I deserve. I deserve Justice but you extend Mercy. Experiencing Grace takes this drama to an entirely new level. Grace would mean that I wreck your car, and in return you cover the cost of the damage plus buy me a new car. Yeah…go ahead a reread that sentence. Grace means getting what I don’t deserve. When it comes to our relationship with God, Grace is God’s undeserved favor.
Why is Grace necessary? Far more than wrecking God’s car…we wrecked the world. God created the world and us to be in perfect harmony and intimate relationship with God. Like well-meaning road rules to ensure the safety of your vehicle, God set a simple ground rule to ensure the relationship stay harmonious and intimate. The ground rule was simple, don’t eat the apple. Now, whether you buy into the historical accuracy of the Genesis 3 story or not, I want you to know that the apple isn’t what matters. The big question for Adam and Eve, and you and I, is will we let God be God…or will we set our own rules. Adam and Eve ate the apple, making a new rule for themselves that states I get to do what I want to do. And you and I do that all the time when we chose our way over God’s righteousness. Like a mutiny or rebellion, there is a battle for who gets to be God…and this battle has wrecked the world.
What now? So…since God made (and owns the rights to) the world and we wrecked it, what will happen? Justice demands we pay the price. The repair costs are death and separation from God. But God, through Jesus Christ, extends Grace. Jesus paid the price for our damage. And in return, we receive God’s love and favor and all the benefit of new life in what will eventually be a new heaven and new earth. We experience Grace as God extends Jesus’ effort on the cross to every person. We experience Grace as God holds back letting us experience the full consequences of the damage we caused. We experience Grace as God urges us to believe in Christ and receive the Holy Spirit. We experience Grace as God through the Holy Spirit renews us and moves us into righteousness and holiness (proper working condition to experience the full benefit of a harmonious and intimate relationship with God).
Grace is a big deal! Its what we all want. If we hope to experience it fully, we got to know what it is and why it matters. In this new message series, Experiencing Grace, we explore the process of God’s grace. Building off of some some good, old-fashion, John Wesley theology, we learn some new words for valuable expressions of how we experience Grace. And then finally, we learn how in experiencing Grace we can share grace. In the end, we hope to learn how to love, live, and give so that all humanity can Belong, Believe, and Become! Click above if you’d like to listen!