Earning Grace

Ashley and I have been reading Brennan Manning’s The Ragamuffin Gospel as part of her internship here at Bayshore, and there’s one idea that has been coming up again and again:

We’re really hung up on trying to earn grace.

Many of our youth are constantly concerned about doing something that will somehow push God away.  I hear similar concerns from young adults overwhelmed by just how unmerited a gift grace is.  And I have a sneaking suspicion many of our median and senior adults find themselves facing a similar question: Surely there’s something I can do to be worthy of all this?

Sometimes the words of Ephesians 2:8 are a bit intimidating: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith –and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God…”  We’re an active people, and we have this pesky internal drive to do something!  Manning sums up the problem beautifully and offers a solution:

Maybe this is the heart of our hang-up, the root of our dilemma. We fluctuate between castigating ourselves and congratulating ourselves because we are deluded into thinking we save ourselves. We develop a false sense of security from our good works and scrupulous observances of the law. Our halo gets too tight and a carefully disguised attitude of moral superiority results. Or we are appalled by our inconsistency, devastated that we haven't lived up to our lofty expectations of ourselves. The roller coaster ride of elation and depression continues.
Why?
Because we never lay hold of our nothingness before God, and consequently, we never enter into the deepest reality of our relationship with Him. But when we accept ownership of our powerlessness and helplessness, when we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God's mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us.

I hope this good news resonates with you today: We are not saved through our own actions but through the actions of Jesus.  Now we enter into a lifelong journey of pursuing Him, secure in the knowledge that nothing can separate us from His love and forgiveness.

Grace and Peace,
Tom

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