I was engaged in a Bible study with some close friends when the following passage got my attention, “Surely you have heard about the administration of God’s grace that was given to me for you.” (Ephesians 3:2) It triggered an interest in me to learn more about grace. I have a vague recognition that the term “grace” represents all that Jesus did for us but until recently I didn’t take time to look at the various aspects of grace that make it so valuable. For the next few blog posts I would like to share what I have learned about the implications of grace in our lives.
Grace Initiates favor and a friendship with God. In Genesis 6, the news reports were not good. “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” (v. 5) The general state of things was not good. People had stopped considering the consequences of their actions, given into every whim that rose up in their hearts and became content to judge their actions by their own ideas rather than any kind of objective standard. Any attempts to point out the negative impact of current affairs were met with stubbornness, scoffing and ridicule.
In the midst of the turmoil, “Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.” (v. 8) The idea is that God accepted Noah and viewed him as a valuable, attractive part of His life. In other words, he was a trusted friend. God “opened up” to Noah about His disappointments and plans. He then invited Noah to be a full partner in His plan.
Abraham was an average man living an average life when God reached out to him. God knew that people weren’t “getting it” when it came to His love for them. He decided He wanted to build up a nation who would demonstrate for the world His interest in mankind, His dedication to provide for His own, His commitment to help us become the best we could be and His desire to draw all people into an honest, cooperative relationship with Himself. To establish this nation, God chose Abraham (Genesis 15:4-6) and because Abe said, “Yes,” he was called God’s friend. (James 2:23)
This is the nature of grace. It goes beyond God taking pity on us because of our imperfections and shortcomings. It raises us to the level of friendship where we confide in one another, share each other’s dreams and make plans together to make life better for those we care about. Hence, Jesus said to His followers, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” (John 15:15)
As I consider the nature of a friendship with God, I realize it is more than just “hanging out” with God. It is joining with Him to accomplish the dreams He has for the people He created. He could do it better all on His own but He prefers to share the journey with friends. It reminds me of the words of legendary football coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, “I’m just a plow hand from Arkansas, but I have learned how to hold a team together. How to lift some men up, how to calm down others, until finally they’ve got one heartbeat together, a team. There’s just three things I’d ever say: If anything goes bad, I did it. If anything goes semi-good, then we did it. If anything goes real good, then you did it. That’s all it takes to get people to win football games for you.”
May we fully enjoy the friendship we have with God through His grace.
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