GRACE is a gift. As Christians, we believe we are saved by the grace of God through faith. How did grace become a free gift? Because Jesus paid for it through a cruel and bloody crucifixion. So it was a very expensive gift – expensive to Jesus. What do we do once we receive this gift?
I have been told countless times, we need to be good people – not bring God into disrepute through our actions or words. We have to be kind, generous, steer clear of any questionable associations.
Did Jesus die to give us a code of conduct? Buddha did that well enough without having to suffer at all. Yogis of India have given good instructions for life. My school teachers gave good advise. My parents have instilled in me great values. We have a plethora of life coaches to tell us how to live a good life. So why did Jesus need to die, if all we need to do as believers is to simply be good people?
God is personal. The Incarnation is personal. “He became like a human being and appeared in human likeness” (Philippians 2:7). Can’t ever get more personal than that.
Jon Walker’s Costly Grace says it like this: “Why do you think Jesus died for you, if not for the personal? What do you think He expects from you, if not something personal?”
I never liked this idea that Jesus did something personal for me. What did that make me? Indebted. I didn’t like it. I used to think, I didn’t ask for it. Why do I need to be under obligation when I had nothing to do with anything. I had no idea of the reality of eternity. My eyes were blind. Ears deaf. At the back of my mind I wanted heaven, but I didn’t want Jesus. It was too burdensome. So it was easy to think Jesus died for all of us, instead of Jesus died for my particular sin.
Things change drastically when you are saved. Grace flows when we open our hearts in repentance. Suddenly you are face-to-face with Christ. You can ignore Him no more. You see your rebellion face-to-face. You see it so clear that you are overwhelmingly grateful for the gift you have received at the cross. This is the one experience you can never explain to anybody. Why? Because its personal! An unbeliever will never understand what changed in you. Even a church-going one. It cannot be intellectually understood even by the most educated. Remember Nicodemus?
So is it free – this grace we have received? Yes because we did nothing to earn it. No, because grace is costly. It’s costly because it can cost us our life. It requires us to carry the cross. That is the cost of grace.
How difficult is it for us hear a sermon in which we are told we have to suffer? On the other hand, how many sermons we hear about the love of God, His long-suffering and kindness, and the God who loves to deliver us from all our earthly afflictions? Are we not more prone to preaching the gospel in a light that keeps us feeling good in our ungodly lives?
Have you thought what would be the turn out in the many churches (charismatic or otherwise), if the music is shut down, special effect lighting is scrapped and the message becomes Christ and Him crucified? If the preacher stopped with the entertainer-streak and simply concentrated on expository teaching? As believers, do we go to church to make ourselves feel good? Will we go to a church where the message is to abandon our lives to Christ? To be partakers of all spiritual blessings (as against material blessings) that are ours in Christ?
Grace calls us out of our comfort zone. Are we willing to abandon our lives that have been saved to Christ? Are we willing to take the risk of letting God provide? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to guide our ministry even if it means upsetting our own plans? Or do we compartmentalize Jesus along with career, family, holidays, etc.
Grace is given to us because Jesus loves us without any holding back. He demands the same from us. It means we cannot have a life unless it is the life of Christ.
Oswald Chambers (My utmost for His highest) – The summing up of our Lord’s teaching is that the relationship which He demands is an impossible one unless He has done a supernatural work in us. Jesus Christ demands that there be not the slightest trace of resentment even suppressed in the heart of a disciple when he meets with tyranny and injustice. No enthusiasm will ever stand the strain that Jesus Christ will put upon His worker , only one thing will, and that is a personal relationship to Himself which has gone through the mill of His spring cleaning until there is only one purpose left – I am here for God to send me where He will. Every other thing may get fogged, but this relationship to Jesus Christ must never be.
The Sermon on the Mount is not an ideal, it is a statement of what will happen in me when Jesus Christ has altered my disposition and put in a disposition like His own. Jesus Christ is the only One who can fulfill the Sermon on the Mount.