“This Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.” (Colossians 1:6, New Living Translation).
Nothing changes until grace grips us. Herein lies one of the conundrums of Christianity.
On the one hand, Christian orthodoxy proposes and defends a certain set of beliefs about humanity, God, Christ, Holy Spirit, Church, and eternity. For two thousand years we have clarified and called people to a particular way of viewing the world and the cosmos. We have often set out to convince people that God exists, Jesus died for our sins, and the Bible is the “handbook for living.” If we can get people to pray a prayer accepting Christ, and agree on these fundamentals, we’ve more or less done our job.
On the other hand, this collection of convictions and code of conduct, seems strangely powerless in the lives of so many people. They may develop a few new habits and commitments (attend church periodically and give occasionally), but they continue to struggle with self-worth, destructive habits, addictions, and brokenness. How does deep, personal, lasting change happen?
Writing to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul says that the Gospel (Good News) is changing lives everywhere, bearing fruit all over the world. I’m sure he’d say the same thing today. But then he gives a clue to what fuels this powerful Gospel; as people hear and understand the truth of God’s wonderful grace.
Grace is the power — the secret sauce — of the Gospel, and it comes in various shapes and sizes.
Common grace is the food on our tables, the clothes in our closets, etc. It comes to people, regardless of faith. God makes the rain fall on the just and the unjust.
Saving grace is the glorious work of Christ to redeem us, to make us the children and people of God, and give us hope for eternity.
Transforming grace is the deep, inner work of the Holy Spirit within us to make us more like Christ; to push out the darkness and flood our lives with Light.
To live and stand in this grace (Romans 5:2) is to become people marked by gratitude, hope, and change. Legalism cannot do this and creeds don’t do this. Grace does. It releases us from bondage. It renews relationships. It changes our perspective. It heals our wounds. It invites us into the purpose and plan of God.
Nothing changes until grace grips us, and when grace grips a life and a community, nothing can stop it. Lives change; the world changes.
Have you been gripped?
“May we grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory, both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.” (2 Peter 3:18)