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A life of grace

Love God. Love Others. Serve the World.

What is a life of grace?

“Grace” sounds like a religious term. When people pray before a meal, they “say grace.” But grace is actually much bigger than that. The word grace means “GIFT.” Grace is part of our name because life is a gift from God to us. Not just the life we have right now, but the life we will have forever and ever. We will live forever!

A never-ending life is good news only if life itself is good. The life we have right now may be pretty messed up, and we might not even want it to last forever, but the good news we have in Jesus announces that life will get better and better – much better! We will live with a wonderfully good God who loves us, who likes us, who wants to spend time with us, to enjoy life with us – all as a gift from him to us. We couldn’t earn it or deserve it, no matter how hard we tried, but he gives it to us as a gift – as grace. God’s grace transforms our life; we respond to God’s goodness by letting him change us, so that we become more like he is. Our lives reflect his grace toward us.

Here’s another way to explain it:

God created us for a wonderful purpose: that we might live forever with him in joy, love, perfect holiness, and justice. But the problem is that humans do not know how to live in perfect love and justice and even worse, we don’t even live as well as we know we should.  Humans ever since the beginning have disobeyed God and rejected his guidance and friendship.

Even if we wanted to live with God, we are unable to bridge the gap that is between us. We are not perfect and we are not holy. We do not deserve to live with God forever. More than that, justice says that disobedience should be punished. When we rebel against the Author of life, the natural penalty is cessation of life. We do not deserve to live forever with God.

But God’s plan cannot be thwarted. His love means that he wants to rescue us from the death penalty we deserve. His justice requires that the penalty be paid. God’s justice requires death; his love seeks mercy and rescue. How can both be done?

The good news is that Jesus Christ has paid the penalty for us. The penalty has been paid, so love and mercy can triumph. It is God’s gift to us. We can be saved, if we accept Jesus Christ as our Savior and Lord.

What must we do to be saved? We accept the fact that we need to be rescued. We admit that we have done wrong and that we do not deserve to live forever with God. We accept the fact that Jesus paid the penalty for us.

We do not want to live the way of disobedience. We turn away from our old self-centered approach to life and turn toward God, so that we seek a Christ-centered life. We ask him to live in us by means of the Holy Spirit, to lead us in our thoughts and actions. We surrender to his leadership and try to obey what he says, since we know that he has such wisdom and love that all his commands are for our long-term good.

If anyone believes in Christ, the Bible tells us, he or she is a new creation; a new child of God (2 Corinthians 5:17). The Holy Spirit gives us new life. It’s not just us trying to live a good life on our own strength; it is God living in us, as we allow him. It is a dramatic change, as a new nature begins to be developed within us, a divine nature. We do not live for ourselves, but for Christ.

To symbolize the beginning of our new life, believers are baptized – dipped under water to picture the death of the old self and the rising of a new life, our sins washed away. We are following Jesus Christ, our Lord.

Christians want to obey God, but because of our weakness, sometimes we disobey. The good news is that God continues to love us, for Jesus’ death has paid the penalty of all disobedience. We are forgiven, not condemned, with the wonderful hope of living with God forever and ever in incredible joy and love.

Just as Jesus had pain and sorrow in his earthly life, Christians also have trials and problems in this life. We sometimes struggle with poverty, disappointment, pain, hurt feelings and persecution. But in all our trials, we rejoice in the salvation we have been given in Jesus Christ. We rejoice in the love God has already shown us.

We live a generous life, willing to serve others, just as our Savior generously served us.