Saturday, December 4, 2010

Grace Works? (Part 2)

How exactly do works and behavior fit in with a life lived by grace?  Here are some more thoughts I have had about how grace shows up in our outward lives:

I live, yet not I but Christ lives in me - the life I now live I live by faith in Him.  That sums it up for me, I think - I go through my day, I freely make choices not to be irritable, I find myself loving others, I find myself drawn to listen to Him, I serve my kids and clean up their messes, yet it is not I but Christ doing those things.  It looks like me thinking, desiring, deciding, doing, following Paul's instructions on action, and yet it's Him in me.  I simply believe He's there and is living in me.  I simply believe the gospel, that I am now in union with Christ and He is my very life and righteousness, living His life in me.  He does the doing but it looks just like it's me.  Weirdly cool.  It's like watching Him work...
The best days are when I am not focused on what I'm supposed to do or not do but instead caught up in Him, just thinking about how He loves me, just being glad that I'm accepted, just realizing He's smiling at me...and the actions part just seems to flow so much better, yet I'm not thinking of it.  To me, that is eating from the tree of life, not the other tree.  To me, it feels like being in love.  When you're in love, you're caught up in your love and you are nice to the world without even thinking about it.   "He has made us welcome in the everlasting love He bears toward the Beloved." (Eph. 1:6 Phillips) and "Now, through the blood of Christ, you who were once outside the pale are with us inside the circle of God's love in Christ Jesus." (Eph, 2:13 Phillips)  I like that idea of being inside the Holy Love Circle!  Included in that love!   Being included in that love is the best thing in the universe, it's what we were made for!  Everything else flows out of that!  That relationship is the focus, not works (which are just the result of that relationship).

I have tended to focus on behavior change and improvement, always measuring myself and comparing myself to others or making sure I'm really "getting better."  I thought if I didn't, God would be disappointed in me.  After all, wasn't that the point of the Christian life - good works?  I think I see it so differently now.  God has drawn us up into His works, and He worked through Christ to make us new and loved us when we couldn't love Him.  Now He is working to spread the good news of what He did and to love others even through me.  He does it, not me.  The main point of the Christian life for me, then, is just receiving and resting in His love.    It's neat to watch God love others through us, but we don't have to be ashamed to just sit and receive His love.  That's not selfish, it's actually the better part that Mary discovered so long ago.  God will take care of the works He wants to do while we rest in Him. 

Grace does show up in our outward lives.  But that's not the main thing about grace.  The main thing about grace is that it ushers us into a love relationship with God that will never fail.  May we all enjoy that unconditional love named Jesus today!

                    With love,

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May the amazing grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, and the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit be with all of you. 2 Co. 13:14