Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Gap Filled By Grace

Have you ever compared what you deserve from God with what God actually gives you? Recently,
I sensed God nudging my heart to just consider, for a moment, not what it is that I get from Him but what it is that I deserve in my relationship with Him. Because in truth, a life with a God who loves us is something none of us deserve! If what you get has to be based on what your actions deserve then....we deserve rejection from God because we reject Him so often. We deserve for Him to ignore our needs because we repeatedly ignore his commands. We deserve for God to seek after anything BUT a relationship with us, because we often treat Him as our last resort when nothing else has succeeded in filling our lives or hearts. We deserve brokenness for when we break the heart of God through our choices. We deserve for God to turn us away because we turn Him away. Regularly.

But I thank God that the economy of grace is not based on what we deserve!! Frankly, it's not even based on what we do. 2 Timothy 2:13 says that if we are faithless, he will REMAIN FAITHFUL to us. That is the gospel for the faithless. For those who fail. For those who have rejected God time and again but yet find themselves still longing for His embrace. It's for people who get tired and worn out from the cutthroat competition of our merit- and achievement-based world. Who long for a relationship where our actions can't change God's character. People like you and me. It's for people who want a sphere of existence that isn't dominated by achievement. That has nothing to do with the success that is ubiquitously craved in the surrounding world. Where we don't have to constantly DO or ATTAIN or STRIVE for favor. Scripture says that God's love and favor surround those who are righteous. At first, that may seem as if it takes us right back to exactly what we're trying to get away from--a world where we have to do certain things and be certain kinds of people to be loved. I've certainly been captive to that kind of thinking before. Because how can we ever be righteous?

1 Corinthians, chapter 1, verse 30, answers that question more beautifully than I ever could. It says, "Christ Jesus has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness, and redemption." I don't know about you, but I can't add anything to that. Jesus IS righteousness for us. When I think about that, trying to earn God's favor seems pointless--if we trust Christ yet still find ourselves falling into the trap of trying to "earn" God's favor, then we are seeking to attain a position that WE ALREADY HAVE. Because we are covered in Christ's righteousness, we are in total right standing with God and our so-called "merit" is thrown out the window. Because we don't even need it anymore!

So, usually, when someone says, "you deserve better," it's kind of like saying, well, it stinks for you, because you didn't GET anything better. It prompts people to think about the gap between what they got and what they deserved, and that gap is often filled with regret and frustration.
Not so when I think of what I deserve versus what I get in my relationship with God. There is a HUGE gap between the rejection my actions deserve from God and the life I'm able to live through Christ. A life where, as one of my favorite songs puts it, the amazing is so ordinary and mercy overflows. And in this analysis of the "what I deserve" versus "what I get" I find that that extraordinary gap is filled by abundant grace.

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