i didn't really understand the Gospel until a couple years ago when the Lord opened my eyes to the freedom of grace. i grew up in a Christian home, Christian school, Christian college. i understood how to be a good girl, in fact, that's where i found my identity. following rules was what i did, and i was good at it. but when i fell short, i felt condemned. i used my good behavior as reasoning for God to be pleased with me, to see me as righteous. when i broke the rules, spoke a harsh word or was just plain sinful, i found myself working extra hard to make up for my short comings. i thought my behavior determined God's view of me. how foolish.
a few years ago i went to work at camp lurecrest. i thought i was going to serve, which i did, but God had such a larger plan for that summer. i finally understood grace after that summer. understood that my right standing before God has nothing to do with whether or not i read my Bible every morning, share the Gospel, have a servant's heart, hold my tongue when i'm angry, or move to Africa to be a missionary. my righteousness is ONLY because of what God did for me through Jesus on the cross. i can never be good enough to earn my salvation, or bad enough to loose it. i had heard this idea all my life, in fact, i'm sure i told people this truth. yet, there was a disconnect between my head and my heart. i can't begin to express the freedom and peace this truth has brought to my life. i now serve and am obedient to the Lord's calling out of loving response for the gift of grace He's given me, rather than in effort to gain His approval. i already have His complete approval, because when He looks on me, He sees Jesus, not sarah. sarah will never be good enough to earn salvation. i rest now in the work God did for me.
i share this because of a few conversations i've had recently with friends where i felt the heaviness of a misunderstanding of grace. the burden of working for salvation. God knows we are completely incapable of living a "good" life on our own. trying to do so is wearisome and impossible. only through the Spirit are we able to live a life in loving response to the free gift of grace. so why not live a life for myself, seeking pleasure over morality? much of it can be summed up in one word, gratitude. so if you're trying to do it all on your own, lost hope that you'll never be good enough or think you're too dirty to be clean, take comfort. Christ died so that you could be free. sola gratia!
"For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them." Ephesians 2:8-10