The need for grace only occurs when something is threatened or broken. In other words, something must be threatened or broken before grace becomes visible. Take relationships for example, ever said the wrong thing at the wrong time? Ever done something with good intentions and it was viewed as manipulative? Ever had past failures plague future developments. We all need grace!
Grace is a catalyst for everything that is possible in a relationship.
- From grace, we can see love. “God demonstrated His love in that while we were sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). “
- From grace, we can see salvation and faith. “for it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – 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).”
- From grace, we can see humility and God’s approval. “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).”
Jesus taught about grace in a very familiar story. A rebellious child who demanded everything from the father so that he could live a new and more fulfilling life. The father hesitantly gave to the child and the child turned and left. A threatened and broken relationship to say the least. The child was now equipped with fuel for a rebellious life style and eventually that life style would consume everything and demand the child’s existence. The child lost everything and was branded with: bankruptcy, broken relationships, shattered dreams, betrayal, homelessness, loneliness, hunger, sickness, regret and depression because there was no hope of recovery. We know the story; the child would return to a place called home humiliated and broken.
He deserved nothing, but when the Father saw the child, he did not hide, call the police, or walk out angrily shaking his fist, He ran to his child, embraced the child, and ordered an expensive party -fully catered. Why? Grace, a threatened and broken relationship could be redeemed because the father and the child were together again. Instead of a lecture the child received a kiss, Grace can restore relationships. Instead of probation the child received a party, Grace can cover our pasts with a fresh start. Grace is the catalyst that restores the brokenness of our relationships.
If grace has not become legalized, dismissed, or minimized, lasting change is possible. The story of grace concludes with an ethical problem that we all can identify with, who should or should not get grace? The father’s other son, who did not leave, is irate. People are celebrating the abandonment of morality, virtues, and righteousness with a catered party. Legalizing grace is deciding who is good enough and who is bad enough so that an appropriate dose of grace can be administered.
The simple point of grace is to allow a transformation to take place. It is never deserved, but it is always given. The father explained to the other son, the child was dead and now he is alive. The purpose of a transforming grace is a newly transformed resurrected life. Anything that falls short of embracing a transformation is legalizing a grace that now requires bookkeeping and judgments.
In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the richness of God’s grace. (Ephesians 1:7)