I was brought up that there were rules that we HAD to follow. And I’ve always been fastidious in following the rules.
There were the 10 Commandments. There were the traffic rules. There were the rules that my Southern Baptist Grandfather made my Mother and Aunt follow when we visited his house. The school we attended had a unique set of rules.
Then I got “saved” and I got a new set of rules to replace the set I had had. Now, it seems that God had new expectations of me.
Whoever has my commands and obeys them, he is the one who loves me. He who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love him and show myself to him. Jn 14:21 NIV
So if I am to show God I love Him, I have to obey Him – right? A friend of mine commented that “Patrick, we are just a bunch of control freaks who are looking for the right rules to follow.” That resonated with me.
Then I discovered GRACE!
Paul Zahl has the best definition of grace that I’ve found,
“What is grace? Grace is love that seeks you out when you have nothing to give in return. Grace is love coming at you that has nothing to do with you. Grace is being loved when you are unloveable. It is being loved when you are the opposite of loveable. … Grace is one-way love.” [Grace in Practice p.36 affiliate link]
Grace has blown me away. I pretty much understand it in my head. I’m slowly incorporating it into my heart.
Does this mean that I don’t have to obey the rules? Yes, I still have to obey the traffic laws or I will reap the consequences.
Gospel = Good News
So the good news is that I do not have to obey some rules to get in God’s good favor. God has given me His good favor when I didn’t deserve it. He sent His Son to die for moi and I hadn’t even followed any rules or obeyed any commandments. Jesus went to the cross to take the punishment I deserved so that I could have a relationship with Him and His Father forever. Jesus didn’t do away with the Laws; Jesus fulfilled their requirement for blood punishment for my breaking them all. And I get the reward of eternal life that Jesus earned by following ALL the Laws forever.
This concept blows me away. It is hard for my rule-ingrained mind to understand.
Does it seem like to you that grace is too good to be true?
Good stuff, Patrick. Good thoughts on grace and law. Really like Paul Zahl’s quote on defining grace. Way to go, Bro. Proud of you.
wow, Patrick, that is insightful & powerful. Grace is so hard for us to understand. There is no one who loves us like God, and no one who would die for us like Jesus did. It’s difficult for me to wrap my head around that & accept it. But God keeps showing me how much he loves me & one day at a time, it becomes clearer. Thanks for putting your thoughts into words. Great stuff.