How would you fill in the blank?
Grace is ____.
I’ve been doing a lot of teaching on grace at my church recently so I thought I would start a series sharing some thoughts with you about what I have been learning.
Grace is unnatural.
Christians talk about grace a lot. And well we should, grace is at the center of what the gospel is all about. Grace is not a myth or a fiction, or a fantasy. It is real. Not only is it real, but it is free for the taking. Not only is it free, but there are no conditions you have to meet to take it. Grace is a gift, a gift given when it is not deserved by a person who is under no obligation to give it.
Grace is something everyone wants, everyone needs, and that everyone hopes to find. What we wouldn’t trade for even a bit of grace! When you realize your need for grace in daily life you realize how much it is worth. Grace can save you from embarrassment when you do something stupid. Grace from a police officer can save you money when you are pulled over for speeding. Grace from your spouse can save you from the cost, pain, and struggle of divorce. Grace from your boss can keep you employed when you make a horrible mistake on the job. When you think along these lines grace becomes very valuable indeed.
There is only one problem….grace is not natural to us. And by “us” I mean everyone and anyone. While everyone wants to get grace, no one likes to give grace. Giving grace runs against our nature. Our nature is to say “Hey! What’s wrong with you? What have you done? Why did you do that?” Our nature is to point out and punish bad behavior, wrongs and offenses not to “reward them” with grace. Grace is not natural to us.
That is why when we see grace—real grace—it stands out. Grace looks like an anomaly, something very out of place that doesn’t match up and that doesn’t make sense. It is not natural. It is unnatural.
You don’t need to look further than the accounts of Jesus in the gospels to see that this is true. Because He came full of grace His followers recognized Him as divine (John 1:14). It is not natural to forgive prostitutes (Luke 7:36-50), eat with criminals (Matthew 9:9-13), or to love your enemies (Matthew 5:43-48). Those who were attracted to Jesus were drawn to Him by the discovery of real, unadulterated, unfettered grace. Those who were repelled and offended by Jesus were stunned and affronted by His grace that was given so freely to all the wrong people in all the wrong places. Weather it attracted you or disgusted you, those people all knew one thing: that grace was anything but natural.