Monday, April 4, 2011

His Grace is Sufficient

It's almost become a John 3:16, or Philippians 4:13 in some sense. We hear it over and over; almost as if its been branded by the Christians as a marketing tool of our faith. My Grace is sufficient for you.... I've heard it 1,000 times. But, out of those 1,000 times, how many times was I actually listening?

Gods Grace is something I have always struggled with as a Christian. I am one of the most ungracious people I know. I can hold grudges, get easily upset, judge person by a single action, blame people, make excuses, put my own interests above others, and the list could go on forever. This is probably the reason I don't understand the grace of God. Why would a perfect, sinless man want to die for the greater good of the innately bad?

Honestly, I don't trust the grace of God sometimes. Maybe its the attitude of the secular world we live in, but somtimes I think, "Well, there is no way God's grace will cover me this time." Maybe you have never gotten to that point, but I can say with assurance that we have all had our moments where we have doubted or wondered if God's grace will really be enough. The moments where I doubt the grace of God are the moments where I know, by admitting my need for grace, I will feel the most weak.

I believe that for most of us, the battle with Grace revolves around our inability to accept something we absolutely know we don't deserve. Think about how hard it is for most people to take compliments or accept some type of unwarrented gift/card/charitable service from a friend. Initially, most people refuse; insisting that the compliment is not true or the help is unessecary. Some people even feel a sense of weakness or guilt in these situations because we are admitting we need the affirmation or help of others. Those same feelings, intensified by 10,000, are what I feel when I need the God's grace.

I have heard the acronyms for grace many times over: God's- Riches- At-Christ's- Expense... and the others of similar phrasing. Acronyms are great for some people, but personally, I need something a little less ambiguous. Dr. Aaron, my theology teacher, summed up what grace is by saying this, "God extends his goodness and love to those who ought to experience his judgments; that is God DOES GIVE US what we DO NOT deserve."

I have screwed up a lot in my life. But my biggest battle with Grace came when I was seeking to be redeemed from my sexual impurity. Throughout my teenage and young adult years, there have been numerous times where I have compromised boudaries and given parts of myself to guys who do not deserve my heart, let alone my body. As I began my search for redemptive love, I felt like this was one area in which I could never, truly feel redeemed. I confessed my sins and still felt heavy. I asked for forgiveness but still felt guilt. I cried out for freedom but still felt bondage.

It was just a few weeks ago at my church where words from my pastor led to a major breakthough in this area. Pastor Kerry was giving a sermon on whether or not God wants us to be wealthy. He said this, "God wants us to experience the wealth that comes from his Grace." He referenced 2 Corinthians 12:9 in saying, "His Grace is sufficient for us. There will never be a situation his Grace cannot cover."

In this verse, God promised that he would demonstrate his power in Paul even through his intense physical affliction. My battle of feeling undeserving of God's Grace is exactly the type of weakness God wants to work through. By finally understanding that, because I am human, I have limitations and admitting my sin as a weakness, God's strength was affirmed.

God's grace is a free gift that he is dying (well, died, ha, whoops) for us to experience. By his Grace we were saved, and by that same Grace, he can redeem us. Whatever we are struggling with or against, imputrity, lonliness, loss of someone close to us, battles with our sin nature, insecurity, unknown futures, singlness, strained or empty marriages, and everything else inbetween, his grace will cover us. Ephesians 2:8 says "For by grace, you have been saved, through faith ---- and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God ---" We became Christians through God's unmerited Grace. That same Grace also allows God to experience the wealth of Christ. He wants to give us something we do not deserve because he loves us in spite of our weakness.

Now, by opening ourselves to the Grace of God, it doesn't mean that he will take our battle against sin away, remove our pain, find us a man, or write us an exact plan. In fact, I still have moments in which my guilt from my sexual history tries to take over the progress I have made in engaging in the Grace of God. We must realize that the point of God's grace is not to remove us from our affliction (although he might), but rather, just as he did with Paul, God wishes to demonstrate his power through us. When I had over my battle to God every morning, I am relying on him rather than myself. I am trusting that his Grace will be enough. Because of this, my heart has slowly started make ground in permanent healing. When I am weak, he is strong.

Choosing to allow God to work in our weakness should give us courage. The kind of courage that allows us to open up and let Christ work his effectiveness through us. Whatever battle you are fighting, I encourage you to open yourself to the Grace of God. The same Grace you experienced through the gift of salvation is once again available to you in your weakness. His grace will be sufficient for you.

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