Up to our Knees in Grace
You know the feeling of having something to say- but too late to say it! Sometimes the best jokes, comebacks and insights happen once the conversation is over. These paragraphs are the delayed words I wanted to add from last Sunday’s sermon. (You may think the sermon is over - but it rings in my head for days!) The words rise from Peter’s final admonition in his first letter. He calls the believers to “Stand firm!” (5:12) The sermon put the emphasis on the need for all of us to stand firm through trials. Stand firm with hope, faith and love. Stand firm with our eyes on the glory to come. All of this is valid, but I put the emphasis on the verb and neglected the location. Yes, we are to “Stand firm.” But we are to place our feet in the current of grace.
It’s too easy for us to think of a ramrod posture and non-budging stance as a result of our strength or willpower. If we were just stronger or more committed, nothing could move us! But thankfully, that is not Peter’s message. If it were true, only the best among us would make it. Instead, Peter tells us to stand in grace. To plant our feet firmly in the confidence and experience of God’s unending favour which flows with no conditions. Stand firm in the fact that He loves you and there’s nothing you can do about it. You cannot make it more. You cannot make it less. You can stand in the grace of God which floods us through Jesus Christ.
If that sounds like good news - then why do we need the reminder to stand in it? You know how easy it is to slip from grace. We can slide into legalism and self-sufficiency. We make our spiritual life the product of our best efforts and measurable markers. We stand in our own achievements instead of grace. Or, we can slide in the other direction. We stare at our inability, failure or self-assessment and conclude that God could never love us as He does. We plant ourselves in the midst of our guilt and believe that we don’t deserve grace.
Of course, no one deserves grace. That’s what makes it grace! It is foreign to our defaults. It confuses our natural thinking. Since it seems too good to be true, we walk on other paths which make more sense to us. Peter tells us to stop it. The only place to stand is in grace. The only way we can stand is by grace. The sacrifice of Jesus, the work of the Spirit and the glory of the Father are all summed up in grace (Eph.1:6). If God Himself is not afraid nor ashamed to present grace as His message and means - then maybe we should follow Him and stand where He stands.