What do you know of grace?
We are called “people of grace.” Many of Paul’s biblical letters include, “grace and peace to you.” Believers are expected to exhibit grace, and we often identify a church as “grace-filled.” But each of these presumes we know grace.
For much of my life I thought grace was a theological concept. In my mind, grace was the unmerited favor of God granted to me through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. While this is technically correct, it is dispassionate enough that I missed the point.
Indeed, grace is what Jesus did for us that resulted in us being embraced within the favor of God. But more important: Grace is who Jesus is!
Jesus-the-person-of grace performed grace, then inhabited our hearts and took us into His heart, so we could become people of grace. As a result, we are engulfed within the favor of grace, exhibit grace through every pore of life, and have as our highest priority knowing Him who is grace. As grace-filled people we are in Christ who is the heart of God.
Simply: Jesus is the personification of God’s heart.
Jesus Christ demonstrated His Father’s heart toward us. While we were hopeless rebels against God’s reign in our lives, Jesus gave His life on our behalf so we might be included in the family of grace (ref. Rm. 5:8).
It is shortsighted to believe that grace is descriptive of people whose sins are forgiven and who are assured of spending eternity in heaven. While this is certainly true, there is much more! To know grace means to know the one who is grace and to be consumed by His life, perspective, persona, and position.
Paul writes of his resolve to make it his highest goal to know Jesus Christ. He speaks of life being summed up in Jesus. He says there is none greater than Jesus and that even those who speak of Him for personal gain cannot help but showcase His life and message of God’s heart of grace for humanity.[i]
In the first chapter of his book, John refers to Jesus as the Word of God personified (1:1). In other words, God looked into His heart of grace, spoke what was in His heart regarding life and light for mankind, and then personified His heart of grace in the person of Jesus Christ (1:4). To know grace is to know Jesus, and vice versa.
As a follower of Jesus, John goes on to talk about being immersed in His glory, a glory that was clearly the glory of God. Adding definition to this glory, John writes that Jesus exhibited the glory of God in that He was full of grace and truth (1:14).
How full of grace and truth was Jesus?
“Grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ,” John says (1:17). I won’t bore you with the grammar of the original manuscript John penned, but the grammatical emphasis is: Jesus was grace and truth.
Jesus did not come from heaven to talk and teach about grace and truth. He was grace and truth personified. So Jesus, who is grace and truth—the heart of God personified—came to earth to show us grace and truth in His teaching, healing, living, and dying.
Grace is a person, not a concept.
How easy it is to get lost in the rhetoric of Christianity and miss the point of being people of grace. To fall short of grace is a terrible tragedy!
How much do you know of grace? Or more personally, how well do you know Jesus?
[i] Phil. 3:8; 1:21; 2:10; 1:15 ff