The Big Question 35: What is Grace?
Mar 18, 2019 23807
What is Grace?
Grace is one of the things that Christians talk about the most. It’s at the very heart of what it means to be and live as a Christian.
Grace is still one of the most elusive concepts to define with human words. The reason for that is that it’s a concept that isn’t human. Grace doesn’t follow human rules. It doesn’t follow society’s expectations. There’s only one way to really start to understand what grace is, and that is to experience it. Sure, I can talk about it, but only by experiencing it for yourself will you really understand it.
Some people say that all religions are the same. They’re not. Grace is what sets Christianity apart, not only from every other belief system in the world but also from every other non-religious philosophy as well.
Every other belief system in the world says that you have to do something to receive God’s favour. That might be praying a certain number of times a day, or belonging to a specific church. Or it might be giving your money to your religion or voluntarily beating your body and starving yourself. Or it might be simply being good.
Whatever it is, in almost all belief systems, there’s this idea that God will favour you more and bless you if you do something first. Grace says, “No, that’s wrong. God loves you anyway. God shows you favour without you having to earn it or please him in any way.”
In other words, grace means unmerited favour. It means rewarding people who don’t deserve to be rewarded. I know that sounds strange because all the systems in this world are based on the idea that you reward people who deserve to be rewarded. In politics, the politician who gets the most votes wins. In economics, the best product gets bought. In sport, the best sportsperson wins the medal. That’s just the way it works.
But grace says the opposite. The Bible says that God demonstrates his love to us by loving us first. His love for us isn’t in response to anything that we do. The crowning act of grace, according to the Bible, happened at the Cross. It says in 1 John 4:10, “This is real love—not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.”
Grace puts us all under an obligation to God. We have an inescapable moral obligation to respond to him in love. It’s an obligation to show the same grace to others that we have been shown by God. And I believe the best life that you can live is when you acknowledge and accept God’s grace into your life, and when you learn to live in the same way toward others.