“From nursery school onward we are taught how to succeed in the world of ungrace. The early bird gets the worm. No pain, No gain. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Demand your rights. You get what you pay for. I know these rules well because I live in them. I work for what I earn; I like to win; I insist on my right. I want people to get what they deserve – nothing more, nothing less.” Philip Yancey
In recent years problem solving has been a standard function at home, at work and in our relationships. A formulaic approach to getting by, being valued and driving purpose seem to over-arch much of our functional identity. Where we are and what we are doing seem to frame our philosophies and rationales in making sense of our daily lives. We may find ourselves amidst victory, injustice, mercy, fear, entitlement or obligation. What changes us from day to day and makes sense within the moments of our daily journeys? Do we have formulas for success, avenues of achievement or statements of mission or purpose which propel us? The world at large can embrace a ruthless timeline and mantra for definition within our circumstances: A hyper imposed social contract which imparts a lack of peace, a reservoir of empty pursuits and a moral code of subjective indifference. From ethnocentric world peace methodologies to partisan political agendas; from blurred boundary lines of appropriate action to innate human rights violations; from must see T.V. to seemingly omnipresent interconnected social network postings; we are losing our substance to a subjective amalgamation of ubiquitous objects of primacy. They demand attention which instigates their own importance, praises their own one-sided argumentative news-worthiness, and elevates their opinions about subjects to usurp lasting significance for momentary relevance; all the while banging the drum of ungrace, discontentment and illusion.
We all get caught in the mathematical conundrum of trying to figure out how to control the chaos and cling to the possibility and outcome which is most reasonable. In making sense of our current circumstances we can wind down the metal rabbit holes of distraction and delusion, ultimately leading to self-glorification or depression. We all identify with the moments of head-scratching, reason-defying, hope-squelching and peace-robbing thoughts and feelings which bully us with anxiety and drive us to confusion and desperation. Fortunately for us, there is a place we can go to for rest. A place where someone says, “Cease striving and know that I am full of grace, love, purpose and compassion.” In a world steeped in action items for success, the Lord God Almighty calls us to rest in Him. We are not to know every detail of the equation, every landmine to sidestep, every possibility of the outcome; more simply, He calls us to know Him. He calls us to be connected to Him and rest in his knowledge. In the current age, we are more connected to each other in ways no other generation has had. And yet, whether in victory or in failure, we are lonelier than any other generation in the world which obscures reality and illusion.
One of the difficulties we continue to face is in our reliance on ourselves instead of knowing trust in God. We consistently take our minds back to the mathematical configuration of salvation and provision through our own actions rather than relying on the abundant grace of a Faithful Lord. This can be a minute by minute struggle as we, like Peter on the Sea of Galilee, so many times, fail to keep our eyes on the Lord and begin to sink. As we begin to think, the formulas and plans for action take over, and the anxiety of what will happen begins to choke our faith in the Faithful Lord. It is in these moments that we must realize God’s action over ours; his power, his compassion and his care for us innate in his action in our lives. From salvation to our safety, from his provision to our prodigal return; his undeserved grace is the true force of our sustenance, powered by his unfathomable love for his creation. We must unlearn this gospel of mathematics, formulaically trading the life of a new creation held in the grace of Christ for the powerless uncertainty of self-dependence.
Similarly, we must encourage one another with assurity and compassion; covered by the same grace we’ve been given. This undeserved grace is the power of connection from the Father to us and from us to one another. Our extension of undeserved grace transforms our relationships, our churches, our communities and our connection. Rather than based on our temporal connection, it is based on our eternal, grace infused connection to the Transcendent Lord. Our mathematical construct reduces the miraculous and wonderful work of our Lord to the actions of a cause and effect deity. Though Christ died on a specific day, at a specific time, in a specific place; the essence and power of his action transcend that moment to the presence of our Holy God, who exists outside of our construct of time and space. This is the majesty of an event occurring in time which outcome has eternal significance. This is the truth which undeserved grace can only afford: Grace which is dependent only upon a God not confined by human parameters. Christ died to afford us forgiveness unbound by time and space, reaching all moments as one; binding us to the continuous grace which is faithfully dispensed by the Lord at all moments throughout history. This truth in the nature of Godly existence is what underlies what Miroslav Volf said about the source of our hope. “The economy of undeserved grace has primacy over the economy of moral deserts.” We must acknowledge this truth in our minds, our friendships, our marriages, our churches and in every interaction with the lost. Undeserved grace knows no boundaries and permeates every good and perfect thing in the will of the Father. This is the concept being everything working together for good according to God’s purpose. This is the “new creation” logic of grace mastering the formulas of our own devise.
We must come to the place of understanding our preservation through grace and not our calculated action. There is only one God who rules and overrules in lives of all men. Let us return to a gospel of grace and humbly rely on the mercy, provision and faithfulness of our compassionate, Almighty Lord. Interpreting our purpose inside our experience, the intentions and actions of others and the outcomes of the future are all a divergence from the hope-filled current of grace to the peace-robbing calculations of fabricated significance. His undeserved grace is not bound by details, time, space or our ability to understand, acknowledge or approve it. This is the power of the actions of a Sovereign Lord. The more we cling to Him and understand ourselves in the connection of his grace, the more his peace is infused into our hearts, minds and souls. We are not connecting to Him to change the level we deserve it; we are bathing in our joyful praise, seeking the safety and illumination of this undeserved gift. His purpose, his peace and his faithfulness are the real calculations on which we can depend. He has promised that if we seek Him, we will find Him. Let us leave the legalistic gospel of mathematics and shine brightly with the glory of undeserved grace. He has called us to leave the illusion of our own calculated existence and find the reality of his provision, his peace and his purpose. He is faithful. He knows exactly where we are, who we are and what we need. His grace is the only refuge we have that can save us – whatever it is that we are facing. Let us relinquish our problem solving efforts to the one who faithfully saves those He loves. He is gracious. He is compassionate. He is God. His undeserved grace is the only remedy for people being smothered slowly by the ungrace of a world demanding worthiness. Cease striving and know He is God. The Miraculous, Sovereign, Holy, Almighty Lord of undeserved grace.