Sunday, December 8, 2013

Fallen From Grace

Maybe for some it's a no brainer, but the greatest commandment has just hit be between the eyes.  Paul's benediction to the Ephesians is swirling in my thoughts. Peace to the brothers, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.  (Ephesians 6:23-24)
Love for Christ is wrapped so closely to faith, and the grace-filled live tied so closely to our love for Christ. What does God want most from me, my faith?  No. My good works? No. My witness? Apparently He wants me to love Him. How could we ever miss that?  Jesus, when asked by the theologians of His day which command was greatest, responded, "Love me. Love me with all you have and all you are." (my paraphrase)
This clarifies the whole issue of falling from grace.  Paul wrote that falling from grace is attempting to attain salvation through the law.  Read Paul's words in Galatians through the lens of this reality. "You who are trying to be justified by the law are alienated from Christ; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith, we eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness.  For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision accomplishes anything; what matters is faith working through love." (Galatians 5:4-6)  What matters is faith working through love.
Fall out of love with Jesus and you fall from grace.  Perhaps that is what Paul meant in his benediction to the Ephesians, "Grace be with all who have undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ." 
Grace is receiving what I do not deserve. So, I do not receive grace if I think I have done something to deserve it.  Grace is received when I trust in the absolute love of Christ for me and my absolute unworthiness to receive it.  In that moment I cast off all attempts to prove I am worthy of His love, all attempts to be justified by the law, and I simply believe (faith) that He loves me. I receive that love, and in receiving it I love Him. Then grace flows in, through and over me in that moment as I realize He does not love me for any other reason than Himself. Jesus loves me because He is Jesus, not because I am me.  So I love him. How could I not love the one who loves me like this?
Now, no longer fallen from grace, my prayer is transformed. No longer do I ask Him to show me what I can do to encourage Him to love me.  Now I ask, simply, "Lord, how can I love you more?"