by Anne Bond
The Word in Scripture
But God, who is rich in mercy, out of the great love with which he loved us even when we were dead through our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ – by grace you have been saved – and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places with Christ Jesus, so that in ages to come he might show the immeasurable riches in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved by faith, and this is not of your own doing; it is the gift of God. Ephesians 2: 4-8
GRACE: what does that mean?
I looked up the word in my copy of the enormous Oxford English Dictionary, using my magnifying glass to read the miniature print… And even in the tiniest readable print, the word “GRACE’ required 9.5 columns – or more than three full pages of text! There are 18 different categories of definitions for GRACE.
With some study, I note that most of these definitions fall into three groups:
1. grace is a pleasing quality – gracefulness; the quality of producing favorable impressions
2. grace is favor; regard and its manifestations; goodwill, virtue, mercy, forgiveness; “favor not as matter or right”
3. thanks and thanksgiving
Well, I know that my name “Anne” is related to Biblical Hannah, Anna, and others… and means ‘grace” but for many years, I thought of grace as gracefulness… The desired qualities of the gymnast I was in my early teens… After many years, I realized that my call was not to be “graceful” but to be “grace-full” or “grace-filled”…
What a challenge!
Let me share a selection from Philip Yancey’s writings in What’s So Amazing About Grace?
“Grace makes its appearance in so many forms that I have trouble defining it. I am ready, though, to attempt something like a definition of grace in relation to God. Grace means there is nothing we can do to make God love us any more – no amount of spiritual calisthenics and renunciations, no amount of knowledge gained from seminaries and divinity schools, no amount of crusading on behalf of religious causes. And grace means that there is nothing we can do to make God love us less – no amount of racism or pride or pornography or adultery or even murder. Grace means that God already loves us as much as an infinite God can possibly love.”
What IS so amazing about GRACE???
If we see grace the way Yancey does – that there is nothing we can do to make God love us less or more – what difference does this make in our lives?
It allows us to set aside the small annoyances of our present and look toward the vision of God’s plan for our world… the universal plan, the community plan, the vision for Central Presbyterian Church in this place in the heart of Denver, the vision for the lives we each lead as we seek God’s blessing on all we do.
Grace-filled and Grace-giving Lord, guide us as we seek your vision for our lives and our communities. Fill us with your grace in ways that we may experience all we hope to experience in our life in you.
Look for ways that you can experience God’s grace on a daily basis. How may you share that grace with others?
Reflect on when and where you have experienced grace in your recent past – from another person, or from God, or from???