My Attempt at Placing the Amazing back into Amazing Grace
Unconditional love is unconditional. Yes, this is redundant, but many in the body of Christ, including myself, have added extra conditions to the finished work of Christ. From my many years of slaving in the salt mines of works-oriented Christianity, I have one piece of advice: it doesn’t work.
When we come to the place where we just accept the grace of God for what it is – grace – then we move into a whole new realm of freedom, joy, and may I say, power. Grace is God’s unmerited favor; it’s a gift; it’s Jesus paying the price for our sins despite our weaknesses. It’s free.
Let me explain it in these terms. Where are you the most alive and free? In a condemning environment? Of course not. It’s in a place where you are loved no matter what you do, think, or feel. I’m not talking about a place free from correction because proper discipline is another form of love. I’m talking about an environment where we are never abandoned, cut-off, rejected, or disowned for what we have done, will do, or for who we are. We are loved no matter what. That’s why it is called ‘amazing grace’.
Please understand that I am not trying to promote licentiousness or a lifestyle of no consequences. I am promoting the unbelievable, outstanding, all-encompassing, and the too-good-to-be true love of God. It’s this understanding that will set people free from the heavy burden of trying to please God when he is already pleased.
John 15:8, “My Father is glorified by this, that you bear much fruit, and so prove to be my disciples.” This verse comes on the heels of abiding in Christ or abiding in the True Vine. The question posed to us from this profound chapter is which Jesus are we abiding in? Is He the crude disciplinarian Jesus? The Mr. Rogers Jesus? The mystical guru Jesus? Or is He the grace filled Jesus who says, “Come unto me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest”?
When we abide in the latter Jesus, not the Latter-Day-Saints Jesus, we will definitely bear tons of fruit. What kind of fruit? The fruit of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, mercy, and patience starts to permeate our lives. We will then lead many into his saving arms. We flow into the freedom of fruitfulness through abiding in a God who loves us unconditionally. If there is any hint of rejection, non-acceptance, condemnation, or displeasure in our relationship, we will not be free to flow in Christ-like character. We will not be free to be who we really are? We will not be free to rest. Unconditional love begets unconditional love toward others and ourselves.
God desires us to bear real fruit for Him and to live abundantly. He wants us to walk in abundance (John 10:10). He set the stage for this to happen. All we need do is accept his unmerited favor toward us. Give up trying to work for it. Just believe. Just rest. It’s the only way.
I’ve tried the ‘working-for-the-fruit-method’ and it only produces rotten papayas, the fruit fly infested kind. Yuck! I chose to take God at His word and receive His unconditional love by faith and faith alone. Romans 5:1 states, “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.” Peace or shalom (wholeness) in our once severed relationship has now been restored through the handshake of faith in Christ.
Nothing will separate us from this loving relationship (Romans 8:38-39). Nothing will break the grip of love on our lives (John 11:28-29). God predestined, called, justified (pronounced not guilty), and glorified us (Romans 8:30). He removed all condemnation from us (Romans 8:1). We are family (John 1:12, 1 John 3:1). He is for us (Rom 8:31). He loves us (Eph 2:4).
We receive all of these things through the restful act of faith, not works. Jesus didn’t suffer on the cross so that we would second-guess whether he loves us or not. There was no second-guessing at Calvary. There was no second-guessing in his love for us. The second-guessed life is an unstable life. It’s an unfruitful life. It’s not life. It’s death. He wants us to rest in the deep assurance of his unmerited favor. He died so that we would know and experience real, definitive love. It’s time to rest.
How does one come to this understanding? Just turn to Jesus and ask Him to show you. It’s that simple. He is The Way, The Truth, and The Life (John 14:6). He will show you the real way to live, the truth on how to walk in it, and the life to sustain and satisfy you. I also want to point out that no leader, human, dog, alien from mars, or any living organism, or extra-terrestrial, will be able to help you into this place of freedom. Only an honest, one-on-one relationship with Jesus will get you there. It’s your choice to switch your eyes from the false securities of this world to Him. It’s time. It’s time to rest in the grace of God.