Monday, June 9, 2014

Grace upon Grace

Kids "live off" their parents, don't they?  For however long they are part of the household - eighteen or plus years - the child lives off the provisions of the parent.  In many cases, the child goes off as a young adult to learn to make a way for himself, recognizing this will become his turn to begin to not only provide for himself, but perhaps his own family in time.  This is a cycle - has been from the beginning and will likely continue to the end of time.  Families are God's plan.  In fact, when he invites us to follow him, he invites us into his family - adopted as a child into the position of continuous fellowship with him.  That very adoption is what gives us the ability and privilege of living "off his generous bounty" - gift after gift after gift.  Now, how silly would it be to have access to the "bounty" of the Father and choose to live off what you could provide instead?  Yet, so many of us choose to do just this - we come into the family of God and still try to satisfy all the demands of the "rules" we think will get us "acceptance" into the family when all the while we are ALREADY accepted!

We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.  We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, this endless knowing and understanding—all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.  No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse.  This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.  (John 1:16-18 MSG)

Bounty is just another word for generosity.  It suggests the magnitude of this generosity, though - limitless!  The rules we keep - better known in the time John penned these words as the Law of Moses - just couldn't hold a candle to God's plan of grace upon grace.  The rules are just the "pointers" - they head us in the right direction, causing us to be attentive to the details of what is to come - but they don't get us to our destination.  We may follow signs on the highway, turning obediently in the direction they provide, but it isn't the signs that get us to our end point.  The car we are driving in is what actually brings us safely to our destination.  The things we think might just bring us closer to God are not always those which do!  We might just find all our "good works" are like making all the right turns - but we don't actually arrive at our destination of forgiveness and restoration under our own power.  

Look at what has been provided in Christ Jesus - when he took on the form of flesh and dwelt among us:

- Exuberant giving.  Not so much as one finger lifted on our part - he gives and keeps on giving.  Another word for this is overflowing.  We liken this to being fruitful and able to be multiplied.  God's grace and love are always exuberant - overflowing, fruitful, and meant to be multiplied in our lives over and over again.  

- Exuberant receiving.  Did you ever stop to consider how hard it is for some of us to receive a gift?  For some, the very idea of being given ONE gift is quite the difficult thing to accept - but to be "exuberant" about this incessant giving is something quite foreign to us.  Why?  We don't think we "earned" the gift. Silly us - if we earned it, it would be wages, not a gift!

- Endless knowing.  Another way to say this is limitless knowledge.  In Christ, we have access to all truth.  As such, we have absolutely no excuse for being "in the dark" about the things God would have us be "in the light" about!  How many times do we settle for darkness simply because we don't take the light which is offered?  Endless knowing involved coming into one truth right after another - not stopping at just half-truth, or partial truth, but embracing it until we come into the place of fully knowing.

- Endless understanding.  Knowledge is one thing - it gives us the foundation upon which we base all understanding.  Understanding is the application of what we know.  When we come into God's family, we not only have access to ALL truth, but we have received the ability to take that knowledge and apply it to our lives in limitless ways.  Truth known is one thing - truth embraced is another.  Embraced truth actually transforms a life!

All this through a person, not performance.  All this provided, not earned.  All this abundantly overflowing, not piece-meal in any respect.  All this is grace upon grace - provision upon provision - privilege upon privilege.  Rather than erecting walls of works, maybe we need to allow God to begin to erect walls of grace!  Just sayin!