Accepting grace

What would you think about a criminal who refused to be set free from jail because he felt he wasn’t good enough?

Probably something like: “He’s weird!”

You would certainly think it strange that the prisoner would choose to remain behind bars rather than accept the gift of freedom.

But I wonder if we Christians are often guilty of the same thing when God offers us grace. We say all the right things about believing that we are now free from the penalty of our sins because Jesus took our place on the cross and died for us, rising again in victory over Satan.

But, like the prisoner in my analogy, we live as if we were still in jail for the wrong things we have done. We can’t believe that God has given us freedom from the punishment we deserve.

I have been thinking about this for a while. I am convinced that I have eternal life and will be with Jesus Christ when I die. But I still try to deserve this gift by my actions. And I get discouraged by my sins.

Yet the message of the Bible is that God loves me and I don’t have to prove anything to him. I am free to love him and be loved.

Tullian Tchividjian, author of Surprised by Grace, puts it well: “Real freedom (the freedom that only the gospel grants) is living for something because we already have favor instead of living for something in order to gain favor.”

Tchividjian says that most of us long for acceptance and affection.

“The truth is that in Jesus, we have all the acceptance we long for,” he says. “The gospel rescues us from the fear of being rejected.”

Noting his own tendency to try to win favour with men and God, Tchividjian remarks: “If you’re a Christian, you are forever, unchangeably accepted by God, the only one who matters.”

Also, as Romans 8 makes clear, nothing can separate us from the love of God. He loves us, no matter what.

“Once we know that we are forever loved by Jesus,” says Tchividjian, “we’re free to love others regardless of the risk, because our deep need to love will be satisfied.”

What I need – and many Christians need – is to “renew” my mind as Paul says in Romans 12:2. I need to change the way I look at Jesus and what he has done for me. I need to think about him constantly. I need to grasp how much he loves me.

I need to accept his grace.

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