Wow. This past Sunday’s sermon at church totally kinda rocked me. And, yes, I think ‘totally’ and ‘kinda’ are the words I would use to describe what I feel. In one moment, my heart was captured and ‘caught’ by the truth of what grace really is. The truth floored my soul and brought me to my knees, to a place of real worship. But it only kinda stayed as my biases and my pride kicked in again, my sin overcame the utter joy I should be living in and convinced me that following my desires is more rewarding than what Christ offers. So I’m writing this to remind both myself and you, dear reader, of the Gospel Truth of Grace.
Luke 5:1-11 is the passage we studied today. Here, we see how Peter couldn’t care less what Jesus is up to because he’s too busy doing his job, however ironically unproductive it turns out to be (they’re not catching ANY fish). Even when Jesus gets on their boat, Peter is skeptical and even sarcastic, knowing from his experience that the fish aren’t biting today. But even in his frustration, he lets down the just-cleaned nets and Jesus’ power is made evident. the nets are filled full to breaking and the boats are even sinking from the weight of their catch. At this, Peter is brought to his knees, and his first reaction is fear. He’s never seen this kind of power and he is keenly aware of his sin. He knows Jesus can see it all, all the filth in his soul, and he fears that he will be destroyed by this man before him. He cowers in disgrace at Jesus’ feet and pleads for Jesus to leave. But Jesus says ‘Don’t be afraid‘.
Our Pastor used this piece of art to illustrate Christ’s gracious response to Peter’s fear:
He told us how this painting hung in a gallery in India and brought people to the name of Christ because of the beauty and freedom found in the truth it holds. So many of us cower in paralyzing fear at the wrath we think is sure to fall on us when all God wants to do is wrap his arms around us and remind us that Jesus took all the punishment for us.
I love the word ‘grace’. It sounds beautiful to me. It’s my middle name, so it’s always been part of me. In middle school, I almost changed my first name to Grace because I liked it so much. I even ironically found out there is a college named ‘Grace’, freaked out and told everyone I was destined to go there, forgot about all of that as I actually started my college search, and ended up there for two years anyway. And once I discovered this forum to share my art, I knew I had to come up with a business name and I knew Grace had to be incorporated somehow.
But I still don’t ‘get’ grace. I don’t live by it and I don’t preach it very well. Because living in grace and loving in grace means I become nothing in my works and become everything in Christ’s work. I don’t want that. I want to kick and scream and tell the world of the accomplishments I have made, the perfect record I have forged, that I actually am the world’s best driver, that I love my friends better than they love me, that I am sexually pure because I saved myself for marriage by my power, that my politics are more holy than yours, that the sin of my pride isn’t as damning as your sexual preference, and on and on. It feels so good. And yet I fall to my knees in fear when I am captured and realize what my arrogance should mean. After all of this, I should be dead.
But grace not only keeps me alive, it gives me new life. It doesn’t just overlook my sin, it clears my name of all records of wrong and breaks the chains that have bound me. And I think someday, when I finally learn to let go of my record of righteousness and really, truly love others without reservations and rules, we’ll both be able to join hands, lift our heads, and stand up straight for the first time. What a beautiful life that would be!
Note: If you’d like to listen to Sunday’s sermon, please go here. I highly recommend it. I love the fact that our Pastor doesn’t mince words. Be prepared to have your pride stomped on, but eagerly anticipate the freedom that can come from an ego squashed and a soul feasting on the banquet of God’s grace.