Our understanding of God’s grace should serve to level the playing field which our egos might raise up for our own benefit during the week. Living daily in a culture that tries to demand that you and I must participate in the rat-race of the American Dream can distract us and distort us from the higher calling that we are given in Jesus. On the radio today I heard an advertisement that assumed that every one of us is working towards being a millionaire. It actually marketed its product to the listener without ever considering that maybe some of us are not living for the purpose of getting more money. We are daily pressured by our culture to excel in the arena of our own personal choosing. Excel as a mother. Excel as a CEO. Excel in your growing financial portfolio. Excel on your sales team. Excel in your athletic prowess. Excel in ministry. We are tempted to raise up the mounds of exaltation underneath our feet because life hangs over our heads words like better, more, wealthier, stronger and prettier. There are also those days when we stand at the foot of the success-mound which someone else has built for themselves, and we gaze up at the heights they have reached, only to come away feeling discouraged about our own lives which have not yet ascended as high. We need something to help us – something to fight against this possible pride that also will rescue us from the depths of discouragement that occur when we unwisely compare ourselves with those we look up toward. Where is this remedy? Christian pilgrim, it is no mystery and it is not anything new, novel or improved. The answer to our pride has always been the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Behold, I am toward God as you are; I too was pinched off from a piece of clay.” – Job 33:6
The Gospel tells us all firstly that humans are sinners – we are born with a faulty nature which leads to a pursuit of independence from God. Some of you have been Christians so long that you cannot even remember that, once upon a time, your impulse was to do whatever you thought was best for you, regardless of the consequences. Children instinctively know how to accomplish disobedience, and some grow up to become proficient at making rebellion into an art form. We may have different degrees of visible sin-stains, but the Gospel first declares that we are ALL lost sinners who stand in need of rescue. The Gospel then infuses us with a biblical sense of significance when we learn that God has established a plan to love, pursue and redeem us in spite of our rebellion. He chases after the ignorant, the stubborn, the hopeless, the self-righteous, the proud moralist, the gutter-drunk, the high church hypocrite and dark-pit pagan. When He assists us to our place of brokenness and surrender, He does not smite us in judgment but, instead, lavishes us with surprising grace through Christ’s atoning work on the cross. This brings relief and life to the deepest part of who we are. The Father births us a second time and tells us, through Jesus’ glorious resurrection, that we will never die. It is in this dimension of grace that God will deal with us from that moment forward. Yes, we still continue to battle sin. The recurrence of failure does not immediately disappear from our résumé. That old inner-rebel has been banished, but he still slips over the city wall from time to time to entice us to play with him again. Yet, the glorious King of grace continues to dispatch troops which evict the tempter for another season, and we are graced to experience another in a series of restorations. The Gospel of Jesus Christ bears an effectiveness on our behalf that God never allows to rest upon our own ability. The enduring goodness of our salvation is far too precious for God to entrust it’s continuance to us apart from Him. There is little reliability in pinched-off pieces of clay, and that is why the message of Jesus Christ is unto the glory of God and not unto us.
The playing field is leveled, and those who are brought down to the same low place through conviction of sin are able to be exalted to the same heights of redemption through the Gospel. If we can, in humility, accept that we are clay apart from Jesus’ grace and mercy, then we may find ourselves more able to be swept up into higher levels of adoration and thankfulness for what God has done. How good of Him to go after You with all of His omnipotent might. How stunning that He remains faithful to you when, admittedly, you are not always faithful to Him. It is nearly unbelievable that He sings His love over you. The Apostle Paul once asked, “Who is sufficient for these things?” We are the pinched-off pieces of clay made to shine forth as the lights of heaven on earth. When His goodness hits our clay, it produces glory. This is all of grace, and it brings unspeakable relief to my sometimes fretful soul.
Thank You, father, for a reminder today that You are the God who weaves strong threads of grace all around us. You make us whole. Today, we choose to rest completely in this reassuring truth.