Anne Lamott said, "I do not at all understand the mystery of grace - only that it meets us where we are, but does not leave us where it found us." If you are not familiar with her writings, you might just be surprised by her openness in describing struggles with things like single parenting, alcoholism, and even her father's struggle with brain cancer. Tough subjects, but honest discovery of the ups and downs (including the depression) of living life as it really is. At best, this is where each of us finds ourselves - living life as it really is. We may try to make life what it is not, but in reality, we don't control the "strings" which direct the actions of others or those which will affect our lives - we just live what comes. I think we need to recognize the value of not living this life on our own merits, or in our own efforts. We need the grace which comes from God alone - the grace which makes us holy, not because of our own merit or actions, but because of the actions of Christ on our behalf. His obedience made a way for us to move into grace - bringing us to places we could never achieve on our own!
The Law teaches that offerings and sacrifices must be made because of sin. But why did Christ mention these things and say that God did not want them? Well, it was to do away with offerings and sacrifices and to replace them. That is what he meant by saying to God, “I have come to do what you want.” So we are made holy because Christ obeyed God and offered himself once for all. The priests do their work each day, and they keep on offering sacrifices that can never take away sins. But Christ offered himself as a sacrifice that is good forever. Now he is sitting at God’s right side, and he will stay there until his enemies are put under his power. By his one sacrifice he has forever set free from sin the people he brings to God. (Hebrews 10:8-14 CEV)
By his one action - Christ has made the "avenue of grace" open to all mankind. By his one action - Christ has removed the obstacles blocking entry into the presence of God. By his one action - Christ has made the means of obedience clear for all - not our efforts, but his grace!
We describe grace as unmerited favor. It was indeed purchased with a great price - the life of the Son of God. It was secured once and for all - for all mankind - through the sacrificial death of Christ. No other means remains for us to experience the presence of God - for all efforts and sacrifices on our behalf will never accomplish what the journey of grace will!
Yep, it is a journey - one upon which we enter into as we begin to follow Jesus. Jesus never looked for those only interested in a "free ride" - but for those willing to put down their own agendas and to take up his path. Grace is not a free ride, my friends - but it is a free gift. The ride actually gets a little harried and bumpy along the way, but the journey is worth the bumps!
We are made holy because Christ obeyed God - not because we come marginally close to accomplishing obedience in our own lives. It cannot be more explicitly expressed - no measure of accomplishment on our part is going to produce perfect obedience - only grace can substitute what we cannot accomplish in our own efforts.
Christ's sacrifice is good forever - for everyone. If we think about the shelves at a local market, we might be reminded of the stacks and stacks of a particular product. If we only view the product time after time as we go into that market, we know of its existence. We have not experienced it, though. One day there is a table set up with free samples of the product - we partake of it. It is in the partaking we are taken into the enjoyment of the product. It is in the partaking of grace that we are brought into the enjoyment of it! We can look "upon" grace - leaving it at a distance - but until we allow it to be "taken in" we won't experience the awesomeness of it!
Grace never leaves us where we were but calls us from here to there. The "there" may not always be apparent, nor may it be the easiest road to traverse, but it is in the travel that we come into the fullness of grace. We don't appreciate the sacrifice until we understand the value of it - we don't understand the value until we see the results - we don't see the results until we complete the journey. Just sayin!