Getting Grace

This week’s passage: 1 Peter 2:9-10

This weekend, we’re starting a brand new series focusing on grace. Grace is one of those concepts that we speak about a lot as Christians. But it’s also something that we can find incredibly hard to get a handle on. In some ways, we just don’t get grace; it staggers our understanding!

Grace is God’s treating us with undeserved kindness. It’s God giving us what we don’t deserve. Mercy, on the other hand, is God’s not giving us what we do deserve. Mercy sees God taking our punishment for rebelling against Him in our place; grace is His then turning around and adopting us as His Sons.

Grace is a gift. If ever we can lay claim to something from God, it’s not about grace. If we earn something, it’s no longer undeserved. And that, I think, is why grace so often sits uncomfortably with us: we’d like to think that God has to at least give us some credit because of the good that we do.

Or, looking at the same concept from a different angle, perhaps grace sits uncomfortably with us because we feel that there is no way that God would ever want anything to do with us. Perhaps we think that we are too far gone to be recipients of grace; as if God has some sort of minimum entrance requirements before he can start doling it out.

But that’s not the grace of God. God’s grace reaches into the very depths of human depravity – there is no-one who can’t be a recipient of God’s grace; Jesus died for us all – if we look to him, there is grace even for us. And our good works? Listen to what Isaiah says in Isaiah 64:6: We are all infected and impure with sin. When we display our righteous deeds, they are nothing but filthy rags. Like autumn leaves, we wither and fall, and our sins sweep us away like the wind.

And God’s reply? Read Isaiah 65!

Earning the right to stand before God. Nice idea – but one that is beyond us. As Paul writes in Romans 5:20-21, God’s law was given so that all people could see how sinful they were. But as people sinned more and more, God’s wonderful grace became more abundant. So just as sin ruled over all people and brought them to death, now God’s wonderful grace rules instead, giving us right
standing with God and resulting in eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Over the next few weeks’ we’ll explore the stories of how people have come to grips with God’s grace in their own lives. We’ll consider today how grace got hold of Abraham. In the weeks that follow, we’ll see how grace has been resounding since creation, how grace got hold of Joseph and how God’s grace reached to, in and through Paul.

And as we do, we’ll see the subtext of grace that rings through history: this is God’s world. As He said to Moses, I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose.

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