I am walking down the street. A total stranger approaches me and says they have a gift for me. I am skeptical. He says it’s true, a gift that will improve my life and that of those around me. It is too good to be true. Who is this person anyway. For all I know he could be trying to trick me, hurt me. I shake my head no, but thank you. I tell him he should offer it to someone else if it is so good. He says he will, he has plenty, do I want it now. In my mind every report of scammers and cheats is replaying. I am imagining the possibilities, none of them good. I am jaded and wary. I will just let someone else risk accepting this unknown gift.
My best friend calls me up. I am sad, for whatever reason. I am happy to hear her voice. She tells me she has something for me, a present. She’s been thinking of me and knows its just the thing. I smile. I get excited. It was the perfect time and just the voice I wanted to hear. She says she’ll stop by and drop it off on her way to work, is that okay. Of course it’s okay, I could go by her place if it would be easier. No, no, it’s no trouble. I will send a thank you card for her thoughtfulness. I will be overjoyed to accept this unexpected gift.
This is how I imagine Grace to be. I imagine it is like the two scenarios above. See, if I don’t know Christ how can I accept His wonderful gift. My world is not a gift giving, all loving place. If I don’t Know Christ, I will not know that to accept His gift is to be truly alive. I won’t know that His is an all embracing, fully free gift…it is eternal and beautiful.
So, when you tell me that I am already saved because Christ gave His life for mine. When you tell me that I don’t have to “do” anything for this gift. When you smile at me as though you are imparting the greatest of news, I will be skeptical, I will be wary.
You are right that the gift is there for me anytime I need it. You are right that Christ gave it willingly to all. But what you are wrong about is the not doing anything part. I don’t deserve it and it is foreign to my sinning heart. I won’t know how to accept it unless I do something, get to know the Giver.
Yes, Grace is free for all, all who want it, all who seek it, all who accept it. And that’s what I have to do…
See, in both Case #1 and Case#2 the gift is the same. What changed was the relationship. We don’t want to think that there is work involved, and really it’s a semantic issue that divides us. It is the words “work” and “do” and “help me”. We are so unaccustomed to being entirely submissive. Our thinking that Grace just comes at us is self-centered.
However, when we get to know Him, what we find out is miraculous. We learn that He has sacrificed for us, planned greatness for us, given everything to us. And so, we will fall on our knees and beg for His Grace, His Mercy, His Love. He extends His Grace to us, but we need to hold out our hands and accept.