Most every Christian would likely agree that in Jesus Christ we find the grace of God. But we most definitely don’t agree on the parameters. While some believe that God’s grace is subject to our acceptance; others believe that there are no conditions, or there is nothing we can do to earn God’s grace—or for that matter, to lose God’s grace. And, quite frankly, the latter is the very definition of “grace.” When we look up the word “grace” in an accredited theological dictionary, or even Webster’s, we find this: Grace is “unmerited favor.” The word “unmerited” means that we do absolutely nothing to deserve it.
In Chapter 15 of John’s Gospel, we find a continuing story about Jesus teaching both his disciples and the crowds who have gathered. Part of what he is portrayed as saying is that, “you did not choose me but I chose you.” Furthermore, “I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.” You see, biblical stories often focus on the back-and-forth banter over who might be the greatest. And if we’re honest, we’ll admit to continually take part in the not-so-friendly game of human competition, between the “the haves” and “the have-nots.” Our society speaks loud and clear… we are constantly vying to be bigger and better. Perhaps it’s a natural aspect of our human nature to always want to be on top. In our world today, there are undeniable attitudes of national superiority, political manipulation, power domination, and of course, the self-proclamation that Jesus favors one church over another. I think it’s all quite ridiculous and counterproductive.
People of faith (whatever that faith may be), as well as those who deny any connection with a deity, are gifted with unmerited favor in a world of abundance such as ours. In any given situation, there is a wealth of resources at our disposal; we are an incredibly fortunate people. It therefore seems asinine to me that we’d enjoy all this blessing in the here and now, but boil and burn in the afterlife. No, my faith assures me that God is good, God is powerful, God is graceful – and never is God a circumstance of anything I can say or do. It’s our daily choice to participate in God’s glory or not. But no matter what our decision may be, God’s grace is out of our control because we don’t get to decide who or what God is. That personally gives me profound hope; God is more than me, more than my strengths and weaknesses. So why not just try and get along and love one another as the great prophets, forbearers, and Messiah taught? Little room is given to that when our greatest concern is whether or not everyone else is adhering to our own theological opinions. In the end, it’s all about the unconditional grace of God. After all, as one church sign declares, “None of us get the last word.”