Responding to Grace
Jul 25, 2014
This week I’m helping out with the worship for a church camp. Growing up I went to church camp every year and it reminded me a lot of my own church camp experiences. For everyone who’s ever been to church camp, you know about these experiences. You come to camp with baggage, burdens, brokenness, and heartache. About midweek after dealing with those issues, we have “come to Jesus moment” or a mountain top experience. All the burdens we once had, all the baggage we were carrying is suddenly lifted, and it’s as if we can see everything in our lives more clearly. The theory of the mountain top experience is that it doesn’t last. When we get back home, about a month later, we forget our groundbreaking come to Jesus moment and everything we got from camp seems like a lost cause. Now this mountain experience is God’s grace. So what does it look like to respond to God’s grace, or the mountain top experience?
If you go up the mountain you have to come back down. This is where our response to grace matters. Our life is like a mountain range. We go through life with baggage, burdens, brokenness, and heartache. We’re surrounded by the same scenery or struggles all over the mountain. Then Jesus intercedes and gives us a mountain top experience. This is where grace happens.
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience— among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not 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, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:1-10
Jesus takes our baggage as his own, heals our wounds and brokenness on the journey there, and says “I’ll take it for you.” Jesus not only offers you freedom from all your burdens, he promises a new path that leads to eternity with the Father. Start to finish, mountain top to valley low, any height or depth, Jesus will be there bearing your baggage saying follow me. I’ll give you life. Because of God’s great love for us, he saw our brokenness and made a way for us to be whole. This is grace.
How do we apply it?
The scenery doesn’t change. It’d be nice to take an easy stroll after our mountain top experience but that’s not how it works. There are going to be obstacles. There is going to be pain. There will be struggles, brokenness, all the same “scenery” from before, but one factor is different. Jesus is going to be there! Situations may change and come and go but the truth of the gospel never does. Do we just give into sin when we fall down? Do we stay down and give up? NO! That’s cheap grace and that’s not what God is about.
“What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we shall certainly be united with him in a resurrection like his. We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin. Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over him. For the death he died he died to sin, once for all, but the life he lives he lives to God. So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus. Let not sin therefore reign in your mortal body, to make you obey its passions. Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness. For sin will have no dominion over you, since you are not under law but under grace.” -Romans 6:1-14
We need to press on toward the goal. We need to push through the struggles, obstacles, and pain. We are to push through and follow Jesus on the new path he has laid for us that contains more than we could ever hope for or imagine. Philippians 3:14 says, “I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” When we crash through those quitting points we will see God’s unbelievably amazing new path for us.
“Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” -Ephesians 3:20-21
Through all our wild scenery and heavy baggage, the scrapes, the bruises, and the failures, God loves us. In fact, He loves us all the more because of them. He gave us a new life and gave us a way to be great for His name’s sake.
What are some obstacles that get in your way of living in God’s grace?
What are some practical ways that help you press on toward the goal?