we believe that we will be saved through the grace of the Lord Jesus, just as they will.’
Lots of things have been said about grace. Better minds than mind have explained it. Today I’m going to share my take on grace. It may not be as intellectually erudite as others, but I think it will make sense.
The challenge in today’s story is God’s love. The apostles are surprised by the effect of the story of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. It has drawn people to them that they did not expect. It has drawn people to them that they perhaps had never considered as worthy of God’s love. But the Spirit has empowered and transformed them. The results are undeniable. God’s love is not just for Israel, but for Greek and Roman and Egyptian as well. And now they have to learn to love these people, from various places in the world, from diverse cultural heritages, as God has apparently loved them. This is challenging and difficult for many. Paul and Peter advocate for this kind of love which transforms not only the loved, but the lover as well.
Perhaps they are especially prepared for this. After all, Peter denied knowing who Jesus was upon his arrest. His fear and self-preservation got the best of him and he pretended not to know Jesus. Yet Jesus first words upon his resurrection, according to Mark, were a special invitation for Peter to come to him. Despite Peter’s failure, betrayal, denial, Jesus loved him. And that love changed Peter. That love that saw and believed the best in him, called him to be more than he had been able to be before, a passionate and bold witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Paul too knew the love of Jesus. Paul, had been a terrorist, leading violence action against the early church. Until Jesus appeared to him and called him. Despite his terrorizing, violent, murderous ways, Jesus loved him and called him. And that love changed him. It redirected his passion from violence to peace, from ethnic and national exclusivism to proclaiming one people all through Christ.
That is what grace is. The overwhelming, undeserved, yet wild and free and never ending love of God. Grace means that God is always for us despite our failures and that God is always calling us to leave behind this sin, this failure and live in life-changing love.
Cheap grace is accepting that love and then continuing on our own selfish ways. It means ‘being forgiven’ without ‘being transformed.‘ And it also means only being concerned with ourselves, our own satisfaction, security, peace. Grace draws us out of ourselves and into the lives of others as reflectors of God’s all-inclusive, life transforming love.
How can you begin to show other’s that kind of love?