My last blog post hit a nerve…
Without meaning to, I tore the Band-Aid off of the relational wounds so many of us are dealing with on a daily basis.
I heard from friends and readers that were separated from family by harsh words, unforgiving actions, and irreconcilable attitudes. It broke my heart.
It broke my heart for my dear sisters in Christ, but in some sense, it broke my heart personally because of the words, actions, and attitudes that too often live at my house. Relational wounds abound and they abound for one simple reason: A misunderstanding of grace.
Tomorrow is Good Friday. Good for us, but a day of horror and pain for our Lord. A day of death for the One who initiated grace, established grace… Embodied grace.
It was His grace that saved us when we were unrepentant.
It was His grace that delivered us when we were lost.
It was His grace that restored us when we were broken.
It’s His grace that’s missing in our broken relationships.
I was 20 years old when I met Jesus Christ. I didn’t have to be convinced that I was desperately in need of a Savior. 20 years of doing things “My Way” had left scars and consequences that were undeniable. All I had to do was look in the mirror, or close my eyes and consider my past, to recognize the devastation that sin had wrought in my life.
But then, I met Jesus. It was His grace that set me free and His grace that compelled me to repent and be restored. Always… always I’ve recognized just how much He did for me!
Always… always I’ve been crushed and amazed by His grace.
That recognition has been a catalyst to extend the grace so sweetly bestowed on me to others.
I’ve seen that same catalyst at work in the lives of many of my friends. Those of us who are 1st generation believers, who didn’t grow up in Christian homes, recognize the depths of our sin and the incredible grace of God.
That recognition demands our action…
Forces our humility…
And requires us to be grace-givers.
I fear for my children and their friends, for those 2nd generation believers whom I love so dearly.
Those children who grew up with Christ and redemption as a casual everyday concept just don’t seem to have the same understanding of grace. They don’t seem to see the depths of their sin. They don’t (to put it graphically) think their “poop” smells as bad as the next guy’s.
Instead of being grace-givers, quick to forgive, restore, and hope for the best; they’ve become arrogant judges, jurors, and law-enforcers.
Instead of saying, “Let me walk with you through the process of repentance and change;” their response is, too often, “Prove you’ve changed and I’ll think about restoring.”
Their misunderstanding of grace has robbed them of the ability to make God look great. As they cling to past wrongs and rehearse past offenses in their minds, they’ve lost the ability to be grace-givers in a grace-needy world.
By refusing to extend grace to others, they’ve lost the ability to fully embrace God’s grace toward them. They’ve become graceless Christians and they’re missing out on the fullness of God.
How can we help them? How do we encourage them to cling to grace for themselves and lavish grace on others?
I think it begins with sharing our God stories with them. No, they don’t need to hear all the gory details of our sinful pasts, but they do need to understand just how desperately we needed a Savior. And, at the same time, we need to gently help them understand just how desperately they, too, need a Savior. We must act as mirrors for them, showing them just how ugly their “acceptable” sins are in God’s eyes.
Until they embrace the horror of their own sin, they can never fully embrace the sacrifice of grace.
Secondly, they need to understand the gravity of Good Friday. It wasn’t for the sins of “mankind” in a general sense that Christ underwent such pain. No, it was for their sin, and our sin, and the sins of their brothers and sisters.
We are the criminals that sent Him to the cross.
He is the hero that showed us grace, nonetheless.
And that, my friends, is what makes Good Friday truly good… The grace poured on us by our Grace-Giving Jesus.
Have a blessed Resurrection Day,