If there is one word that describes Jesus it is the word grace. John describes Jesus this way in John 1:14. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, Full of grace and truth.” He says further, “Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” 

Jesus was a person of Grace who offers us grace and invites us to live in His grace. It is the greatest gift we could ever have. 

I had a favorite uncle. His name was Warren. The thing that was so wonderful about Warren is that when you were with him you always felt absolutely accepted and loved. There was no judgment. It was pure acceptance and love. It was very different from a lot of Christians I knew who were critics and legalists rather than lovers and acceptors. To be in Warren’s presence was to feel totally accepted. That is grace.

In the passage we read from John above, it says Jesus came full of grace and truth. Phil Yancey writes this in his book, Vanishing Grace, “The church has worked tirelessly on the truth part of that formula: witness the church councils, creeds, volumes of theology, and denominational splits over minor points of doctrine. I yearn for the church to compete just as hard in conveying what Paul calls the “incomparable riches” of God’s grace. Often it seems, we’re perceived more as guilt dispensers than as grace dispensers.” 

To be a grace dispenser we need to live in that amazing grace ourselves. Perhaps our problem is that we don’t understand grace. Paul writes this about how we come into relationship with God. “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…and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can  boast.” (Ephesians 2:4-9).

How did we come to God? By grace. We did nothing except choose to believe. And even this was grace. We didn’t come into relationship with Him out of any goodness on our part. In fact, we were dead in transgressions but by His grace we were saved. In fact, there is nothing you can do to make God love you more and there is nothing you can do to make Him love you less. We exist as Christ followers in His grace from start to finish. We live in His grace.

We often think that we need to live up to some standard in order for God to accept and love us. That is not true. He loves us regardless with an amazing love. He calls us out of that place of love and grace to follow Him which means changes in our lives but it is not out of earning any love from God. You cannot earn His love. He offers it freely along with his forgiveness and salvation. Period. Full stop. 

This is what I experienced when I was in the presence of uncle Warren. He exuded love and acceptance and grace. He was like Jesus. Unlike a lot of other people I have encountered whose acceptance you needed to earn and whose critical spirit wounded you and you never felt good enough. Many churches are like that but that is not Jesus.

It is no secret that we Christians can be the most critical and unloving people, both with each other and with those who we perceive to be antagonistic toward God. When we are critical and unloving to fellow believers we miss the point of grace which is that it cannot be earned. If God accepts them I need to as well. In our critical spirit we kill the grace of Jesus, and in effect, require others to earn our love even though Jesus freely gave us His love. 

When we are unloving to those who don’t claim to be believers in the name of defending truth we miss the spirit of Jesus as well. Henri Nouwen, one of my favorite authors, prayed this about those who he could see as enemies or ungodly. “God, help me to see others not as my enemies or as ungodly but rather as thirsty people. And give me the courage and compassion to offer your Living Water, which alone quenches deep thirst.” 

In a New York Times Opinion Piece, Peter Wehner wrote this. “If you find yourself in the company of people whose hearts have been captured by grace, count yourself lucky. They love us despite our messy lives, stay connected to us through our struggles, always holding out the hope of redemption. When relationships are broken, my wife Cindy told me, it’s grace that causes people not to give up, to extend the invitation to reconnect, to work through misunderstandings with sensitivity and transparency.

You don’t sense hard edges, dogmatism or self-righteous judgment from gracious people. There’s a tenderness about them that opens doors that had previously been bolted shut. People who have been transformed by grace have a special place in their hearts for those living in the shadows of society. They’re easily moved by stories of suffering and step into the breach to heal. And grace properly understood always produces gratitude.”

That was my uncle Warren. That is Jesus. That is what we all long for and that is the gift of grace. As Philip Yancey says, we can be guilt dispensers or grace dispensers. I pray that God would make me much more of a grace dispenser as I understand how God loves and accepts me. 

Grace dispensers are like magnets to others because they exhibit the character of Jesus. Churches that are places of grace and acceptance are all too rare and so beautiful when found. So here are two questions for us today. Are we living in the grace of Jesus rather than trying to earn his love? And, are we like Jesus in dispensing his Grace to all those around us. Even those we consider ungodly and our enemies?

  • Apr 05, 2022
  • Category: News
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