Mar 18, 2009

40 days: pretend grace doesn't exist for a moment

Why is "Amazing Grace" such a popular song? For all the right reasons... it was written by a person who spoke of who he once was and now is through the grace of Jesus Christ.

I "once was lost" means a time when we lived in ignorance, rebellion, and foolishness.

"But now am found" reveals that a change has happened - we are a new creation!

We do a real good job in many church circles at pretending nothing wrong happens after that transformation. So how about taking a moment to recognize our continued ability to step backward? We sort of do that a lot more than we own up to, and when someone calls us on it we shout "GRACE! GRACE! GRACE!" (which seems to be the Christian-ese way of saying, "DON'T JUDGE ME! DON'T JUDGE ME! DON'T JUDGE ME!")

During this season of Lent, maybe it's time to stop a moment and admit that we do foul up more than we consciously recognize... that instead of acting on the principles of reconciliation Jesus commands of us, we hold grudges we shouldn't hold... how we spend too much time looking to see if anyone notices the shifty thing we're about to do... or the way that we can neglect acting out of greater interests than our own, settling for selfishly small lives instead.

Pretend that grace doesn't exist for a moment.

Which means you're stuck in that rebellion... and all its consequences... all the negative fall-out it brings on you and everyone around you.

And eternally - there is no pardon for your sin.

Notice I said to pretend only for a moment, because that's as long as we'll allow ourselves to. We don't like the thought of life without grace. We depend on it more than we realize to act foolishly, on purpose, assuming "God will forgive me again when I do this."

Stop playing that game.

Make today a time of confession. Seriously, do it out loud or on paper... own up to the stuff that you have recently done that is out of character with the heart of God. Don't pretend He doesn't know about it... He does. Confession isn't for Him to hear, but for you to take responsibility.

And as you do, think about Christ's suffering and sacrifice on your behalf. How He has richly poured Himself out for you and has offered you the chance to not be stuck in backward living.

Pretend for a moment that grace does exist in the way that it's intended to... not to excuse your sin but to transform your life... not to simply overlook your sin, but to save you.

That's the grace you have been invited to take part in.

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature objects of wrath.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. (Ephesians 2:1-6)

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