Think back. Dig into the memories in your own mind. I want you to think of a situation where you received great grace. It might have been given to you by someone else, it might have been in how an event unfolded or it might be a divine encounter in which you know Jesus was deeply acting in your life.
We all have been recipients of such events. We might not initially acknowledge them as acts of grace, but they are. In our own human interactions we call things gracious...we describe them as undeserved. As amazing as those acts can be they don’t even scratch the surface of how God has given Himself to us graciously in numerous ways. The depths of human language and emotion can’t truly grasp it. John Newton chose to use the adjective “amazing” to describe how he understood how God had acted graciously to him. His words probably form the best human understanding of how God interacts with us.
Grace is amazing. Grace is much larger than we can offer it. Grace is subversive. It confounds the world in how it is given to us. Todays scripture lesson causes us to at first jump back at how it tells us God doesn’t work and how grace is on our side.
About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”
Then Jesus told this story: “A man planted a fig tree in his garden and came again and again to see if there was any fruit on it, but he was always disappointed. Finally, he said to his gardener, ‘I’ve waited three years, and there hasn’t been a single fig! Cut it down. It’s just taking up space in the garden.’
“The gardener answered, ‘Sir, give it one more chance. Leave it another year, and I’ll give it special attention and plenty of fertilizer. If we get figs next year, fine. If not, then you can cut it down.’” Luke 13:1-9
Many times we descend into the idea that God isn't gracious. We begin asking questions about the state of the world. Some who call themselves Christians even say God is behind the events that seem to plague our world (I describe these as a theology of crazy Facebook status updates). Christ mentions a few fresh on the mind of his friends. In our own lives we can string together a list which some have called the activity of God.
This goes against the grain of what we see identified as the gracious activity of God. God's grace describes the most fundamental parts of His character. In the midst of a world torn apart and ravaged by sin, grace offers to us a radical surgery of our hearts.
Grace is bigger than the world WE have created. Grace is the present evidence of a future and eternal world with the presence of Christ at the very physical center of it all. Jesus is our advocate, the one tilling the soul of our hearts and preparing us to truly understand what it means to give ourselves over to the Father. He is the one watching over us and leading us to true salvation. Grace is the true cruciform heart of Jesus.
Grace is on our side. Grace is the witness of Christ in the hearts of all men before they come to Him. Grace is what justifies us as we let Christ be Lord over our lives. Grace is what sustains us in a perfecting journey in the Holy Spirit.
Yes friends, grace is on our side.