Grace Upon Grace

The intentional setting aside of a given period of time to focus on and participate in the totality of the life of Jesus is one of the main reasons I love and benefit from the Church Calendar. I find myself, both intentionally and unintentionally (more like kicking and screaming) sharing afresh in the death of Christ during the season of Lent. I always try to choose the way in which I will die to myself by picking a Lenten fast that I am easily satisfied cutting back on and decreasing in my life, trusting that God will adhere to my specific death-wish specifications.

Unfortunately, he rarely does.

My prayer through lent and much of the past year for that matter has been to understand his grace more. I am not sure if I considered how he would show me that, I assumed in some way that felt like cuddling an infinite amount of puppies in a room consisting of the fluffiest pillows known to man.

This has not been the case.

In the waters of baptism, I committed to sharing in his death (Rom. 6:4) in order that I also share in his resurrection (Rom. 6:5), and yet, I continuously hope to receive from his resurrection, with partial or no death at all.

I want to understand his death in a deeper way, which I think is imperative to understanding and experiencing his grace in deeper ways.

When I look at my life on the vast spectrum of sin and grace, I am somewhere along this line:

                            Sin Grace                            

The reality of the gap between these two elements of life are truthfully too wide to even attempt to put into a blog; it is as wide as the Cosmos...or wider. What I have received by grace is so disproportionate to what I deserve due to my sin, and truthfully, my sin doesn’t have nearly a profound enough effect on me, as it should.

As a Canadian, my most natural tendency is to apologize, excessively, and over things that don’t really need apologizing for. If I am five minutes late for lunch, I will waste the next five minutes apologizing for inconveniencing you. Your time is valuable, and I care about that and you are going to know that I care.

Yet, I am indifferent when it comes to true repentance. I don’t care as much. Sin can be so commonplace in my life that it doesn’t even register that it is happening.

Every sin I commit was deserving of death and every sin, obvious or seemingly insignificant caused the creator of Heaven and Earth, the author of life to die, for me.

And I feel entitled to that.

The cross of Jesus has become so normal that it doesn’t truly faze me.

I have been looking back into the Old Testament and meditating on the sacrifices in Leviticus. There is a gruesomeness and brutality to them, copious amounts of blood was necessary to atone for sin. The writer of Chronicles records 22,000 oxen and 120,000 sheep at the dedication of Solomon’s Temple (2 Chron. 7:5), and yet the once and for all sacrifice of Jesus was more pure, holy, and efficacious than the entirety of the sacrifices in the Old Testament, and, he was sacrificed because of me, and my sin.

He was beaten, ripped apart, brutalized, mocked, spit on, forsaken by God, bearing the weight of the sin of the whole world and I had a significant role to play in that.

I have spent this Lenten season trying to keep this at the forefront of my mind.

My sin is deserving of death, and yet I am alive.

My sin is deserving of death, and yet I am alive, and being blessed far more abundantly than I deserve. I am given joy and hope, with all my guilt and shame washed away. My status with Christ abundantly surpasses even a morally and spiritually neutral state, because of Grace.

In my own heart, over time, I have lost the appreciation, awe, and true sorrow over the sacrifice of Christ, which has lessened and cheapened my appreciation of his abundant and amazing grace.

This Lenten season, you are being called to share in his death, dying to the things of the world, our own selfish ambitions, and fleshly desires. We are dying to good and fun things, often the promises we have felt he has given us.  Sometimes dying to things, we didn't know needed to be crucified.

Why?

To draw nearer to him, to participate in his death, to be like him in death because he loves us all too much to leave us alone, as we are.

When we do, from his fullness, we will receive grace upon grace.

dean stephen barbour

Rob SteeleComment