When I think of my life, the moments of pain, stress, and disappointment, I wish I could say that I am quick to give grace to other people or even myself. Grace is a mystery. This is especially true when it comes to the grace of God.
I love how James Emery White defines it,
“Grace, at its heart, is getting what you don’t deserve and not getting what you do.”
The crux is this, we don’t deserve it, especially when it comes to God’s grace. This is why grace is part of the greatest love story. Understand, I don’t think that we don’t deserve (to use White’s words) because we are vile, or as one hymn states “wormwood and gall.” What makes us undeserving is, well… we do dumb stuff. We hurt people and ourselves and create destructive patterns and pass them on to our kids. We push God’s love away.
Yet, God continually comes and gives us unbounded grace. My favourite verses on this are found in Romans 5:6-8
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
We were powerless when we received God’s grace. We are like Steve Rogers (before being transformed into Captain America) being beaten up in an ally having to be saved by our best friend, Bucky. We are not the heroes in the grace story. It is God. It will always be God. Why? Just as verse 7 points out, as a whole, us humans rarely would give up our lives for a completely innocent person. We maybe, might possibly, if we’re in a good mood, give up our life for someone who has done nice things for us (what “a good person” is insinuating).
As verse 8 points out, we were none of those. We are not innocent. We have not given anything “good” enough to deserve the unmerited grace we have received. Simply while we were still sinners—while we were still opposed to God—Christ died for us. Unrequited grace. We didn’t want it, even though we needed it.
It is because of this unrequited grace that I love the theologically contested song, “Reckless Love,” by Corey Asbury. For God to love the way God does, while we reject Him is reckless. If it were our child who was chasing after someone they loved and that person continually rejected them and pushed them away, we would say they are being reckless. We might even say the same thing to a parent who has experienced incredible hurt and brokenness from a child. We might say they are enabling them by giving unrequited love. When we anthropomorphize this divine love, it is reckless.
Saying all that, a love that perseveres is the thing that the greatest stories on earth are written of. Knights and dragons, princesses and witches, sleepless nights in rainy cities—as compelling as authors and directors have made these fantastic stories— they still don’t compare to the love that bestows grace and sheds it abroad upon our hearts freely to us.
We must always remember that the prerequisite for grace is, and will always be love. Tina Turner may ask, “what’s love got to do with it?” but our answer was, is, and will always be everything.
As John 3:16 famously states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his son.” It’s all for love and love for all. God’s love is bigger and grander, and because of grace. God would rather love us, give grace, and be hurt than to not have us a part of His family. Now that’s amazing grace.
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