I’ve been rediscovering grace like a pair of shoes that for some reason I haven’t worn for a while — or maybe more so the kind I buy on impulse because I’ve fallen in love with them, but stick in my closet and forget. It’s always a joy for me to find things I’ve put away and not remembered having: ten dollar bills from Grandma when I was a kid, Wayne Gretzky’s autograph (wait, I never did find that), a note from a friend… I’m finding grace and falling in love all over again.
I know the wages for my sin and believe they have been paid for once and for all by Jesus…Don’t I? My conviction has been that I too readily shelve the grace of God for the “old” covenant: works-based justification.
I don’t think I’m the only one. The fickle dance we do with grace is all over our conversations: “You reap what you sow”; “What goes around comes around”; “He had it coming.” Wow. Gracious. Thank God we are not left to bear every natural consequence.
My re-acquaintance with grace is due in part to a book I’ve read, written by a charismatic Korean preacher named Joseph Prince. One of the more challenging things he writes is that we as Christians tend to mix covenants, old (law) and new (grace). We accept grace on one level yet judge others and ourselves for not living up to God’s standards, as if our warped sense of holiness could ever comprehend God’s standards in the first place. In trying to justify others and ourselves by “standards,” we condemn ourselves immediately, bringing ourselves under the rule of the “law,” which clearly we cannot keep in its entirety. We place ourselves under the old covenant, which God Himself has made obsolete. If there is arrogance in thinking that my “good” actions could ever be “good enough,” then perhaps the same is true in thinking our failings are too great. We can’t have it both ways; one foot clad in grace and the other blistered from a shoe that doesn’t fit, limping along spiritually.
Grace. Unmerited favor. Not because of what we have done or could ever do, and not even despite it. It is what God has done and is doing—what a gift!
To run this race of the upward calling in Christ Jesus, we need the right shoes.
Jaylene Johnson is our ministry coordinator. In addition to songwriting, performing and her role with saint benedict’s table, Jaylene works as a side-player, substitute teacher and creative consultant. She also sits on the board of Manitoba Music.