by Serena Sinclair – Pastoral Intern
Rhythms of Grace
“ . . , freely you have received, freely give”. Matt 10:8
We often admire the classic name of “Grace,” it fits perfectly with almost any baby girl name whether sandwiched between a multi syllable first and last or as a chic stand alone. In addition to the christened name, other connotations of “grace” are mentioned before mealtime, “let’s say “grace,” or during a hectic week when you’ve begged for “some grace,” or perhaps you’ve uttered the tongue in cheek comment, “grace us with your presence.” Reflecting upon my younger self, I’m certain my definition of grace was the answer I learned during Wednesday night bible trivia: “grace is unmerited favor” — I didn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it but I’m sure glad I have it because now I can skip the usual plea of, “Jesus if I die tonight please save me from hell’s fiery pit.” If surrendering my life to Jesus saved me from eternal damnation, unmerited favor was a definitive win.
Stumbling around the dogmas of grace theology has been a long-term venture, one which continues to baffle me when I’ve acted out my nonsense and steeped myself in a steaming brew of condemnation. In my quest of comprehending everything Jesus has done for me, I’ve gleaned a few life-giving discoveries: grace disarms the selfish meisms, grace relieves the anxiety for perfectionism, grace ends the struggle to nurse the hurt of offenses, grace picks me up out of the hot mess of choosing anything other than Christ, washes me off, and says, “You’re a brand-new creation, now go out there and kick butt.”
Grace is unhinged religion at its best. Although you may have heard a different story, there’s no ladder of good deeds that land you in a heavenly utopia, there’s no magic formula, no genie in a bottle, no perfect Christian checklist — grace is discovered in a walking, talking, viable relationship with the King of Kings. Without Jesus grace is next to impossible to experience and increasingly difficult to offer. In Matt 10:8 Jesus gives his disciples instructions which collide with the day-to-day routine of His kingdom build, “freely you have received, freely give.” The encouragement towards generosity pertains to the disciple’s ability to extend the grace of healing the sick, raising the dead, cleansing the lepers and casting out demons. While the power to physically raise people from the dead belongs to God alone, have we allowed unforgiveness to fester sickness within our heart, or feed a demon of greed? We all share the need for healing which comes through cleansing, casting out, and resurrecting our new self through the grace of Jesus. This truth somewhat bewilders me, how many times have I skimmed over these words “freely you have received, freely give”? The life-changing possibilities of this statement make me stop in my tracks and take note. What first appeared as a simple truth leaves me undone: “freely you have received, freely give.” The ebb and flow of grace possesses the divine power to permanently change me from the inside out. It offers an identity transformation that defies the temptation to live merely as a grace consumer and instead lean into the persona of a grace giver. In forgiveness we enter the beautiful exchange of accepting God’s grace, we break free from the tethers of old scenarios that bind us to the shame of what we’ve done and the bitterness of what’s been done to us. Wherever we find ourselves in this moment, in shortcomings, weariness of mind, or physical weakness, let us grab hold of these words, “God is able to make all grace abound to you so that you may always have complete sufficiency in everything . . .” (2 Cor 9:8 AMP). If we’re not jazzed about God’s grace, it’s doubtful that we’re experiencing His free gift of grace. Living in the ebb and flow of freely receiving and freely giving awakens us to more of God and invites us to what is lasting. Through grace we reframe our circumstances against the background of His sovereignty, and we readily admit we’re a masterpiece in the making. We determine to sync our identity with the lover of our soul, and permit His strength to shine through our weakness, and our pain, so we can boast of His goodness. In the rhythms of grace, we discover what it means to live FREE!
Lean into Him and move to the rhythm of His good grace:
Don’t let your heart be troubled
Hold your head up high
Don’t fear no evil
Fix your eyes on this one truth
God is madly in love with you
Remember where our help comes from
(Hillsong lyrics, Good Grace)