“I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20
We have a problem with grace.
In my experience most people long for grace, believe in grace, and are astounded by grace. Grace is both amazing and puzzling. It is beyond my comprehension, but personally I accept its reality and presence in my life. I no longer have nagging questions. But I increasingly sense that this is not typical even for faithful Christians.
Here is the problem in a nutshell: Most people do not for a serious moment believe that the parable of the prodigal son, for example, applies to them. They know alienation and feel that God is little interested in them, but they cannot truly accept that if they were the lost sheep or coin, God would seek them out. They live as if they are the forgotten prodigal, or the one who signed up too late to work in the vineyard, or the demoniac with one too many demons for God’s redemptive touch.
To be honest I have never really struggled with this. My pastor through my teenage years, James K. Pierce, set me on the path of grace. In seminary I learned more about the depths of grace from gifted men and women who were my professors. I have continued to be fascinated by God’s grace and committed to studying and teaching it. Again I can’t really pin down everything about grace, but I know in my soul it’s true.
David Seamands, a counselor, summed up the challenge in this way: “Many years ago I was driven to the conclusion that the two major causes of most emotional problems among evangelical Christians are these: the failure to understand, receive, and live out God’s grace and forgiveness; and the failure to give out that unconditional love, forgiveness, and grace to other people. . . . We read, we hear, we believe a good theology of grace. But that’s not the way we live.” (What’s So Amazing About Grace?, p. 15)
We don’t live out grace. Perhaps at some level many of us believe we are broken beyond mending. That’s not true of course, but most people appear to live with that suspicion. What if, instead, you lived “as if?”
What if you lived today as if God has you on His mind constantly and absolutely delights in you?
What if you lived today as if God will provide every single resource you need?
What if you lived today as if God has forgiven you and is in the process of mending every flaw?
What if you lived today as if God offers the same grace that washes over you to the person that is causing you trouble?
What if you lived today as if grace is real and all that truly matters?
You might not yet fully believe or accept the previous propositions, but living “as if” can be a starting point of trust. You will not figure out grace, but you get thrilling glimpses of it that are life-changing.
Take the gospel at face value. It is good news that God loves you infinitely. You now have enough information to make a decision today. Live as if.
Dr. Terry Ellis
June 21, 2015