Responding to Grace

Well, I enjoyed a few weeks off of my class schedule at Olivet Nazarene, but cranked it back up last week. God has used these studies to challenge and encourage me in so many ways this year. One of the major themes for me has been in regards to our “response” to God’s grace. This theme of response in regards to salvation has brought so much clarity for me, not only in how I think about the Christian life, but also in regards to the language that I am using when talking with others about salvation or in my teaching as well. I think there is a common understanding throughout Scripture, that when we come to a point of faith in Jesus Christ, our lives are to be changed – to be transformed. One of the great questions Christians ask, both new believers and those who have been “saved” for many years, are questions of, “How then am I to live?” We believe in Christ as Savior, and that we are justified before the Father through His blood alone. I find many believers and even myself at times, wrestling with that very question. I believe the answer is simply, respond.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God — not by works, so that no one can boast.
— Ephesians 2:4-9 (NIV)

When we respond to a missed phone call, we recognize that another person made the effort to reach out to me, and it is now my choice to respond to their call or not. They took the initiative to make the connection – I did not. In similar ways, Christ is the initiator of the relationship. Flowing from the heart and love of the Father, Jesus died on the cross for our sins and our lives, even while we were in sin. His love is so far beyond my comprehension right now, it is hard for me to understand how someone can say that they had any part in their own justification. Our debt was too great, yet Christ’s sacrifice was even greater.

When I respond to His grace and love, I am acknowledging that, as the hymn goes, “Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe.” There is nothing I could ever add to what Jesus Christ accomplished on the cross and through His blood. Nothing. But as a result of my faith in Jesus, He calls me to live a life in response to all that He has done. The sanctification process truly is a life-long response in grace.

I hope to reflect Christ a little more each day in the ways that I live my life. I hope that as I finish a week and I look back on how I invest my time and resources would be honoring to God. That they would reflect a heart that knows it has been purchased, a debt that has been paid for, and that the way I live would be in response to that love.

I hope to reflect Christ a little more each day in the ways that I love God and love others. I hope that I find myself in worship of God at times that are in addition to Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights. I want my heart to be so broken for people and things that God’s heart breaks for. I want my heart to be so filled with an understanding and gratitude for God’s love and grace, that out of the overflow of my heart, I am able to sow seeds of grace, love, and mercy in to the lives of others that God places in my life. I pray that the same would be true of your life as well.