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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Let's get to the root of the matter

Jesus leads us into a place of radical grace where we are able to celebrate the hope of experiencing God’s glory.  And that’s not all. We also celebrate in seasons of suffering because we know that when we suffer we develop endurance, which shapes our characters. When our characters are refined, we learn what it means to hope and anticipate God’s goodness. And hope will never fail to satisfy our deepest need because the Holy Spirit that was given to us has flooded our hearts with God’s love. (Romans 5:2-5 VOICE)

Radical grace - what a visual image comes to mind when I think of grace this way.  Grace is unmerited - it is undeserved and unearned.  It is a gift, given freely, not under some sense of compulsion.  Radical grace is that which is totally opposite of what the present condition is that exists within someone's life. In other words, when God extends radical grace, he is saying you and I are getting something so totally and completely opposite of what it is we should be getting. My favorite part of this passage is when Paul reminds us that we will learn what it means to hope and anticipate God's goodness.  Receiving radical grace actually puts us smack-dab in the center of what can only be described as God's goodness.  William Shakespeare said, "We know what we are, but know not what we may be."  As God's radical grace pulls us closer to him, we begin to hope in what he sees in us even when we don't see it ourselves.  We begin to think maybe there is something deep within that he values - even when all our actions and attitudes seem to be those which aren't "measuring up" at the moment.

All of life is a process of being refined - moved from one state into another, until what once was a "mixture" of good and bad, holy and dishonorable, beautiful and kind of ugly begin to be separated, allowing that which doesn't reflect who he is to be skimmed away.  We don't find our way into the "refining fire" on our own, nor do we find ourselves enduring it alone.  We have both his presence and the company of others to help us see our way through the process.  Look at where this passage begins - with Jesus leading us right into the place of being refined - made new through the radical grace he gives.  Most of us think of "radical" as something describing the intensity or gravity of an issue or subject. In this case, when Paul describes grace as "radical" he is really telling us that grace isn't just about setting things right at the moment, it is about getting at the root of the issue at hand until the root is changed, allowing the character which is produced to more closely and perfectly resemble Christ!

Peace comes through radical grace - changing the "root" of our trust from deeply rooted in what we can accomplish.  We move from trusting our own ability to overcome or "act right" - we begin to see our actions stem from a changed heart (mind, will and emotions). Hope stems from having experienced something just enough that we want or yearn for a lot more of what it is we have experienced.  Anticipation is based on both the sense of peace we have as a result of this change which has begun within us and the hope that there is more of the same available to us when we turn to the source of grace.  I don't know how many of us actually "celebrate" God's grace in our lives, but even when the root is still young and growing, grace is to be celebrated - reveled in, enjoyed, allowing it to bring pleasure into our lives.  We might not see the full transformation, what we can hope and anticipate what is about to be brought forth because where "radical grace" begins, "radical character" is just around the corner. Character with a "new root" - not the same old us, but the us that only grace can see and love can foster!  Just sayin!