Is Christianity all about grace? Is it all resting, receiving, and soaking in God’s generous, unconditional love?
Yes, yes, and yes. Our posture never changes. We are always and forever the recipients of His transformative, life-giving touch. We’ll never escape this life of utter dependence and gratitude.
But is there somehow a place for living with intentionality? Do we make decisive efforts to let grace shape and re-shape our lives as we embrace the paths of spiritual growth?
I think the answer to this question is also “yes,” but it needs to be qualified more. It’s very possible to get our eyes off “God’s part” in our relationship with Him (which is EVERYTHING), and to re-assume responsibility for our own salvation and maturity by focusing on “our part.”
Our part is but to lean into the Truth that His part is enough. Over and over, and then over and over again, we actively and passively find ways to internalize the simple Gospel reality that He has become for us the complete totality of all that we will ever need.
“Because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, ‘Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” – 1 Cor. 1:30-31
We lean into His love. We savor and remind ourselves of His loyalty. We build upon the rock of revelation that HE has chosen US (John 15:16, Ephesians 1:4), not the other way around. We surrender, but we are surrendering to the One who utterly surrendered His own heart to us at the Cross — and He never pulled it back.
We are disciplined too, sure. Sometimes that means we make challenging decisions in life as we get to know God and offer ourselves in obedience to Him. Ultimately though, if we are seeing things clearly, it’s HIS irresistible initiation, HIS sustaining fuel, and HIS guaranteed hope for where we are headed that moves us and gives us a focal point for all of our discipline and intentionality.
“For I through the law died to the law that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I do not set aside the grace of God; for if righteousness comes through the law, then Christ died in vain.” – Gal. 2:19-21
We feed on, dwell on, stand on, and fight from the fullness of radical, unmerited favor that our amazing Jesus has brought us into. This is what renews our mind. This is what reorients the trajectories of our lives. This is the only thing that sets us apart from our spiritually insecure and striving neighbors.
This beautiful Gospel is key at every stage of our growth. We are never moving past it. And in the face of both religious traditions and secular systems of peer pressure that have shouted the opposite message for millennia — our greatest struggle is always to stay centered here in our beloved-ness in Christ.
“We love because He first loved us.” And “His mercies are new every morning.” There is no other anchor for our soul and no other wind powerful enough to fill our sails and carry us into our destiny.
“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” – Phil. 2:13
May it never be said of us as it was for the Galatians,
“O foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. Let me ask you only this: Did you receive the Spirit by works of the law or by hearing with faith? Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by [the strength of your own] flesh?” – Gal. 3:1-3
Rather, Lord, keep and wash our hearts ever more in Your healing grace. You and Your profound sacrifice are all we need, everyday.