Yesterday I shared with you the beginning of my faith walk and my surprising struggle with sin when I had considered myself a good Christian. Here’s the rest of the story.
I had been the arrogant older brother in the prodigal son parable (Luke 15:11-32) and the pharisee looking down on the tax collector (Luke 18:9-14). I was humbled that God would promise forgiveness but was confused how that could be possible.
I protested that I don’t deserve His forgiveness. God replied “Exactly.”
He gently gathered me into His arms and lavished His love on me. On me: the ungrateful, haughty, goody-two shoes who thought she could earn her sanctification. He quieted me with His love. He showed me the true meaning of grace by pointing me to the cross.
There, I looked back in time to see Jesus hanging on that ugly cut of wood, bearing my sins in His body (1 Peter 2:24), becoming sin so that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).
I see Him gasping for breath, exchanging a few precious words with criminals in His dying moments. I see Him straining to pick out His mother from the
crowd and placing her in John’s charge so that she would be cared for. I see Him looking on the Roman soldiers gambling for His clothes mere yards away, and showing shocking self-restrain when He could have called down fire from heaven to destroy them. I see Him taking in the mocking crowds, the same people who had heralded Him King mere
days before, and then making this surprising plea: “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!” And there, to the left of the soldiers, I see myself, hurling insults with the rest of them, and Jesus looks on me with love.
The scene is revolting. It’s so unfair! Why should He suffer so that those ungrateful wretches may be forgiven? Why should He die so that I might live?
I want to protest, to tell God that it shouldn’t be this way. I want to somehow make things right, to do something so that Jesus doesn’t have to take my sin on Himself. He doesn’t deserve this treatment–I do!
And then it hits me.
That’s grace: God gives me the forgiveness I don’t deserve not just once but every day.
Yes, Christ died once for all–the godly for the ungodly (1 Peter 3:18). He’s no longer on that cross
because He’s standing at the right hand of the throne of God (Mark 16:19). He is alive, victorious, and preparing for a magnificent ending to the story when He returns to pick up His bride and everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, Philippians 2:9-11): What a glorious day that will be!
But sometimes… sometimes we need to slow down and actually look at the cross scene. Are you with me? Sometimes, even after our salvation experience, we need to go back to the place of the skull and remember. Don’t rush to the tomb before you take in the great travesty that occurred at the cross of Jesus, because you can’t fully celebrate Resurrection Sunday before you’ve grieved Black Friday (the real Black Friday, not the commercial one).
I learned to look on the cross of Jesus as the great equalizer: there we all stand in need of a Savior. It doesn’t matter what category my sin falls into (drugs, sex, dishonesty, etc); sin is sin. And I need a Savior.
Since that season in my life, I’m learning to live every day in God’s grace. I still fail as a Christ-follower, wife, mother, daughter, employee, and friend. Every day, I need to humbly return to the cross, the tomb, and the throne room, in that order. I fix my gaze on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of my faith so that I will not grow weary in this journey and grow discouraged (Hebrews 12:2). I ask the Holy Spirit to mold me into the image of Jesus. And I thank the Father, who cradles me in His loving arms, that He showed this “good Christian girl” just as much grace as He did the Wiccan convert.
How about you?
How has God shown grace in your life? How do you understand God’s grace and the Christian walk differently today than you did at the point of salvation?