Grace. Its what we crave most when our guilt is exposed. Its the very thing we are hesitant to extend when we are confronted with the guilt of othersespecially when their guilt has robbed us of something we consider valuable.
Therein is the struggle, the struggle for grace. Its this struggle that makes grace more story than doctrine. Its the struggle that reminds us that grace is bigger than compassion or forgiveness. That struggle is the context for both. When we are on the receiving end, grace is refreshing. When it is required of us, it is often disturbing. But when correctly applied, it seems to solve just about everything. This struggle is not new; it has been going on since the beginning.
We find in the pages of Scripture that the stories found there often mirror our own stories, and that we too need the very thing we do not deserve: the grace of God.
From the beginning, the church has had an uneasy relationship with grace. The gravitational pull is always toward graceless religion. The odd thing is that when you read the New Testament, the only thing Jesus stood against consistently was graceless religion. The only group he attacked relentlessly was graceless religious leaders.
Even now as you think about grace, there might be a little voice in your head whispering, It cant be that easy!
What about obedience?
What about disobedience?
What about repeated misbehavior?
What about bad habits?
What about justice?
What about repentance?
Its this tension that makes grace so slippery. But thats the beauty and the truth of grace. We dont deserve it. We cant earn it. It cant be qualified. But God gives it to us anyway because he loves us unconditionally.
The story of grace is your story. And as you are about to discover grace plays a larger role than you imagine.
The Grace Of God by Andy Stanley was published by Thomas Nelson in September 2010 and is our 18854th best seller. The ISBN for The Grace Of God is 9780849946936.