A while ago during my sabbatical, I was asked to write something for the blog—every time I prayed about what to write, grace came to mind. However, I felt unqualified to write about it, and, since most of us have personally experienced it for ourselves, what would I have to add by writing about it? Nevertheless, the impression remained, so two months after my sabbatical finished, I've finally given it a go!
Grace is simply God loving us so much that Jesus took the punishment for everything we’ve ever done wrong, so that we wouldn’t have to suffer punishment for it, now or ever. So many things change as a result of accepting this free gift—freedom, hope, daily life, our identity, what happens when we die, and so much more. But at root, the concept is simple. On the other hand I think all of us—or me at least—spend our earthly lives trying to understand and fully accept grace ... and therefore trust God’s love for us.
I've heard of experiments where people try to give away an expensive gift on the street and people passing don't accept it because they can't believe it's truly free. Almost everything in our lives is conditional. And the more overtly true that has been for us, the harder it is to accept that God wants to give (and keep giving) us something for free. For each of us this comes out in a different way—being religious, judging non-Christians, judging Christians who have a fleck in their eye in spite of the log in our own, doing things on our own strength or in other ways. I know, in different seasons, I’ve become aware of new ways I don’t act, feel or think in ways that are true to the grace I’ve been given. For example, we know that when we repent, the sin is as far from us as east is from west, that we are washed white, that when the Father looks at us, He sees the purity of Jesus. But I’ve turned that into, “I know I’m forgiven but you must be looking at me differently now God." Similarly, we say we trust God, but worry about things He has said He will provide, or think we need to take control of situations. The only way forward is for God to guide us to more fully accept grace each day. As we do that, everything changes, step by step. So often we think it's about what we do to change, but in reality we change because we have a deeper knowledge of God's grace and love.
grace applied in govan
One of the things I love about being involved in youth work in Govan is being able to share some of that grace with the young people. Young people who hang out on the street have a lot of people telling them what is wrong with them, but very few seeing the potential and gifts God has given them. It’s a privilege to get to share some of those with them. It’s even more exciting when from time to time we get to share the gospel of grace. Like us, many of the young people struggle to trust. Not only that, but many have a strong instinct about whether people really care, whether people look down on them, whether people are 'safe' to let in and whether people want to use them for their own ends. They are looking for relationships, so we don’t need to convince them that they need trusted adults in their lives. But we do need to demonstrate that we are trustworthy enough to talk to and get to know. At the end of the day, they are looking for grace, they are hungry for it, because they want to be accepted where they are at. They are under no illusion that their lives are sorted or that they don’t do things wrong. But they are also under no illusion that adults are perfect or have an automatic right to speak into their lives. They don't know God or where to go for grace. Their hunger for grace and suspicion that it doesn’t exist is something I deeply identify with. Through salvation and the years of knowing God, I trust Him more and more. Yet He constantly gently uncovers ways I didn’t realise I’ve not been trusting Him.
New Team really need: volunteers; things from the amazon wish list; regular financial givers; and are recruiting a young men's worker (7 hours/week). If you are able to spread the word about any of these things or can help yourself, please contact Louise on firstname.lastname@example.org for details. Thanks!