Friday, June 01, 2007
There is something truly remarkable about grace. Grace is something that is massively misunderstood in our culture, and it's something that when we even just begin to grasp, revolutionises our understanding of God.
I am having great trouble in finding the words to explain what I want to say - I guess because I am aware of the enormity of grace, yet also incredibly unaware of just what it means for God in His grace to choose to dine with the outcasts, the sinners, the broken - all those who society in their piety cast aside and see as unworthy. To understand that grace means that even though God hates our sin, he welcomes sinners - no matter how ugly their sin is in the eyes of the world; it is not that God overlooks our sin, but that He pardons us in spite of our brokenness. What kind of a love is this? Something that a huge proportion of the world dismisses as impossible - as an ideal, a cover-up excuse for messed up people being happy when they find God.
The fact that God's grace means that even those who have spent the majority of their lives making others' lives a misery, can know God's grace, disgusts a world that thinks it understands justice.
My mind boggles at this grace, but my heart is awed by it.
I've been re-reading Brennan Manning's 'The Ragamuffin Gospel', which is an incredibly refreshing insight into God's grace. Thinking about grace got me thinking about the title of my blog. I chose to call it 'running for grace' because I want to know more of God's grace, and I want to be running towards it rather than away from it. But actually, the whole concept of running for grace is slightly paradoxical in that the whole point about grace is that we do not receive it by striving for it, but simply by the fact that Jesus' death made us worthy to receive it.
I think that sometimes I drastically miss who God is because of my striving - my running out of a desire to know more of Him. In this striving, I am becoming more aware of the reality in what Manning says about the 'graced life';
'The child of God knows that the graced life calls him or her to live on a cold and windy mountain, not on the flattened plain of reasonable, middle of the road religion.'
In experiencing God's grace, there is a responsibility to show others that same grace - even though we will mess up in this, God gives us the grace to be gracious. In knowing God's grace, it no longer suffices to live a life characterised by 'middle of the road religion', which can seem like the far easier alternative. It's a big old challenge, but one that I want to embrace...