Tuesday, February 21, 2012

It’s All About Grace

This week our church is beginning a sermon series on the Apostle’s Creed called iBelieve. I grew up going to church, and every week we would either say this creed or another creed. They were a big part of my church experience and faith formation. I liked the creeds, and I believed them--at least at some level. But in retrospect, I would have to say I probably gave intellectual assent to the fact they were true; I don’t know how much I really believed.  

While knowing information about God is important, it’s not the same as knowing him. For a long time I thought Christianity was knowing things about God and doing things that would please him—like going to church, reading the Bible, and living a good life. Don’t get me wrong: those are good things, but knowing and doing those things is not what makes a person a follower of Christ. And people can do those things and not know Christ. I can say this from personal experience.

In my own journey of following Christ I have come to understand that to believe is to have an interactive relationship with God through Jesus. Jesus is the key to life as it was meant to be lived. That’s why Jesus uses a vine to help us understand how we are to enter into and  live this life. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). 

A branch that is cut off from the vine will wither; a branch connected to the vine will thrive. Jesus came to give us life. This life is a gift of grace. Dallas Willard says that grace is God accomplishing for us what we cannot accomplish on our own. We cannot enter into the life of God apart from grace, and we cannot progress in the life of God apart from grace.

This blog is titled “Growing in Grace” because that is the journey I am on. I want to rely more and more on the grace of Christ and participate in the life he is already living. Too often I get caught up in thinking it is all up to me. I know I am not alone. While I don’t deny there are things to do, God has already done all that is necessary. Jesus came to bring us an abundant life-- a life of love, joy, and peace. This life already exists because of his life, death, resurrection, and ascension. I want to grow in that grace, and I want to help others grow in grace as well.

Ephesians 1:3-14 is an incredible snapshot of the kind of life Jesus has already given to those who believe. It is a life of wonder and beauty and mystery.  There is nothing we can do to earn it or deserve it. It’s all about grace. Be honest and ask yourself: “What does the way I live my life say about what I really believe? Do I believe it’s all up to me, or do I really believe in God and rely on his grace?

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