Thank you, Ms. Mari-Anna, for permitting me to showcase your work and share your inspiring, thought provoking words.
Don’t Accept Substitutes for Grace!
(by Mari-Anna Stålnacke)
Are you a friend of grace or a stranger to grace? I don’t know anything more liberating, more exhilarating and more exuberant than God’s abundant grace. In grace the whole salvation story comes together and starts to bloom. Grace is so wonderful, amazing, powerful, wild but gentle that it tames me over and over again. It embraces me and woes me for God time after time. It surprises me, it encourages me, it corrects me, it renews me, it treats me according to my needs. I am in constant need of God’s wild grace. I am in constant awe of God’s amazing grace. I am in love with God and his abundant grace.
God’s grace is what sustains me and anyone else who wants to be a friend of grace. But we need to be careful not to accept any substitutes for God’s amazing grace. That’s why once in awhile we need to make reality-checks on our faith to make sure we are living in grace -not in works or in cheap grace- but in the wild, real, amazing grace of God Almighty. And Lent is just a perfect season to make these reality-checks on faith. It’s time to get rid of anything and everything that keeps us from God’s amazing grace! Christianity is not about being good and doing good. Don’t accept any substitutes for Grace! Your life depends on that!
However, God is rich in mercy. He brought us to life with Christ while we were dead as a result of those things that we did wrong. He did this because of the great love that he has for us. You are saved by God’s grace! And God raised us up and seated us in the heavens with Christ Jesus. God did this to show future generations the greatness of his grace by the goodness that God has shown us in Christ Jesus. (Eph 2: 4-7, CEB)
God did to us what he had previously done to Christ: he brought us from death to life with Christ. God did this not because how lovable we were. As sinners we were dead men walking. God did it because he is Love. As recipients of grace we are walking with Christ. We are saved by grace only! The passive voice here underscores the fact that we are totally passive when it comes to being saved. There’s nothing we can do to earn it. Because it is a gift from God! Grace manifests God’s endless love, grace and mercy to us. It also emphasizes the huge difference what it is to be alive in grace and what it is to be dead in sin. We can’t save ourselves. We can’t make ourselves to come alive. But God can! And he has prepared the path in Christ Jesus!
You are saved by God’s grace because of your faith. This salvation is God’s gift. It’s not something you possessed. It’s not something you did that you can be proud of. Instead, we are God’s accomplishment, created in Christ Jesus to do good things. God planned for these good things to be the way that we live our lives. (Eph. 2: 8-10, CEB)
The radical change from death to life is a pure gift of God’s grace. This amazing transformation is no way the result of our activity. Even the faith as the means by which God’s grace has saved us is a gift from God! But while the text underlines that our salvation is not from works, it also emphasizes works to be an intertwined component of God’s grace. Our works have not and will not save us but they are part of the plan God had in mind in bringing us from death to alive. Good works are not just accidental by-products as we go about our lives.These good works are so vitally important that God has preplanned and pre-prepared them for us to do. It’s not about us. It’s all about God. Thanks be to God!
We really don’t play any major role in our salvation. We are just recipients of God’s enormous grace. Everything has been done. We can only receive it with faith and rejoice! But we need to make sure that we are not accepting any substitutes of God’s grace. The minute we start thinking we have something to do with our salvation, we start focusing on our works. The minute we start thinking we can use God’s grace for our own purposes, we start focusing on cheap grace. Then we are ignoring the gift of God’s grace and soon we are living outside of grace with some poor substitutes of grace like religious acts or cheap grace.
We can’t produce fruit if we don’t remain in the tree of Life. We can’t be God’s instruments of good works if we don’t abide in Christ. We can’t do the preplanned and pre-prepared works if we don’t focus on God. But when we live in grace and leave the self-centered acts for strangers of grace we can truly enjoy the world of grace. Being best friends with grace of God has abundant benefits: Life and more life. Love and more love. Grace and more grace!
We are beggars of grace: forgive us!
Embrace us fully with your grace so
we’d never substitute your grace.
We are recipients of grace: thank you!
Guide us to do the good works you have especially
preplanned and pre-prepared for us to do.
We are friends of grace: be praised forever and ever!
In Jesus’ name,
Be blessed, my fellow pilgrim, as you live in grace, dance with angels and celebrate life and the Giver of Life!
Q4U: How has God’s grace surprised you?
This post is part of the Lenten Blog Tour.
(Scripture in this post was taken from the new Common English Bible.)
If you would like to read more from Ms. Mari-Anna please visit "A VIP In God's Eyes", "Following Jesus, Putting God First", "Come As You Are!", "Receiving the Grace of Christ: an Amazing Race of Amazing Grace?", "Looking for Joy, Peace & Harmony in Your life?", "Spiritual Strength-Training", "But God!", "An Ability to Marshall & Direct Our Energies Wisely". You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter @flowingfaith.
("Don’t Accept Substitutes for Grace!" and photo (c) Mari-Anna Stålnacke. Reposted with permission.)