By Rev. Kyle Norman, Crosswalk.com
Living in Grace
By Kyle Norman
As an Anglican, the words “The Grace” are ingrained in how we do Church. Many of our church services either begin or end, with these words. These words do not just appear in our services; they are also the standard close for any Bible study, meeting, or potluck. In fact, so familiar are we with these words, that some may not even recognize them as a passage of scripture.
Of course, when Paul penned these words, he did not have in mind potlucks, Bible studies, or liturgical services; nor were these words designed simply to conclude his letter in a crisp and poetic fashion. Rather, in writing these words, Paul pronounces a reality which encompasses the lives of all Christians. Simply, the words of the grace declare a truth about your life. This truth has three components.
Firstly, the grace of Jesus Christ is upon you. Scripture uses the word “grace” as a shorthand for the entire redemptive activity of our Lord. The entire arc of salvation history is contained in this small 5-letter word. Grace is Jesus entering your world in the most vulnerable of fashions; It is him walking toward you amid threatening storms; It is Jesus touching you in the place of your brokenness and offering his healing presence. Grace is Jesus weeping with you as you mourn the losses and struggles of life; It is Jesus journeying into the place of death and sin, violence and pain, to dethrone their power over your life; It is Jesus rising in the power of God, and extending that resurrection like a blanket over you. Grace is the intimate presence of the Lord precisely in the places where you feel that you do not, or cannot, deserve it.
When Paul writes “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. . .be with you” everything stated above is declared to be a truth for your life. In hearing these words, you are invited to live in this reality and to allow these promises to enfold you. Jesus, the exalted Lord, surrounds you.
Paul does not stop there. Paul also writes about the reality of God’s love over you. I encourage you to sit with the awesomeness of this proclamation. Consider the sheer delight in being able to declare, under the authority of scripture, that the love of the creator surrounds you. The declaration of God’s love isn’t just something quaint we say. It is not a slogan of faith that sounds nice but lacks reality. No, God’s love is extended to you. This is a fact.
Scripture is replete with declarations regarding the activity of God’s love upon our lives. No matter what is going on in life, no matter how far off course one may have gone, God surrounds us with the deepest expression of love that we can ever imagine. And to top it all off, such love will not change or diminish. It will not lessen in degree or intensity. The love of God is constant.
Lastly, Paul concludes this life-giving verse by invoking the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. This statement refers to an active engagement with the Holy Spirit in our lives. This flows naturally out of the other two statements. If we truly recognize that we are immersed in our Lord’s redemptive work, and rooted in the sacrificial love of God, then how can we not see ourselves as filled with the power of Spirit? The Spirit invites us to participate in God’s activity in the world. We are invited to share in the work of the Kingdom.
Intersecting Faith and life:
How might you embody the words of The Grace in a deeper way? Perhaps the place to start is by acknowledging the area that you find most difficult and then choosing to live as if the words were true. For example, if you have a hard time accepting God’s love, simply choose to live as if God’s eternal love was a full reality for your life. Dare to believe that God’s eternal love is powerful and effective in your life. You may decide to make a list of biblical verses that speak of God’s love, and then wilfully read yourself into such verses. You just might be surprised at the transformation that takes place.
The grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the activity of the Spirit surround you. There are no moments in your life where this is not the case. The fact is, the more you live as if these words are true, the more you experience their reality in your life.
For further reading:
- Ephesians 2:1-9
- What Do Propitiation and Expiation Mean in the Bible? on Crosswalk.com
- All of Grace – by Charles Spurgeon.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Olezzo
Reverend Kyle Norman is the Rector of the Anglican Parish of Holy Cross in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He has a doctorate in Spiritual Formation and is often asked to write or speak on the nature of the Christian community, and the role of Spiritual disciplines in Christian life. His personal blog can be found here.
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