Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Love outside the lines

The grace of our Lord was poured out on me abundantly, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 
(1 Timothy 1:14)

Summertime, and the living is easy. Fish are jumping and the cotton is high... Or if you live in Hogsback, you could say, the baboons are jumping and the brambles are high. Days are long and lazy. Doors and windows are thrown open wide to let the breezes through. We find leafy canopies for a lingering picnic time and the coolness of a wide dam or rocky pond for a refreshing swim. My two fishies' bodies have been bronzed by the sun, and their movements become languid in the heat. Misty days bring respite - time to learn, read, reflect and sweep out the rolls of dust and unexpected treasures from under cupboards and beds. Cool little feet press against my arms while we read about the adventures of Toad, Rat and Mole, messing about in boats among the weeping willows in the light of a silvery moon. On the hottest days, life is slowed, layers of clothing are shed. All around us it seems as if nature itself stretches its limbs to let the cool breeze flow through. The cat becomes longer as the day gets warmer, his customary curl uncoiling itself as the mercury rises.

But today the mist has returned, and is welcomed with deep sighs of relief. A good day for making a hearty bean stew. But then I read this: "Grace does not exist to make us successful. God's grace exists to point people to love, like no other love they have ever known. A love outside the lines."(1) And I felt the Lord say instead: "A good day for writing about grace". The bean stew will have to wait a bit.

When I looked up synonyms for grace, I came up with words like - benediction, blessing, gratitude... etc. But the one that stood out for me was "sanctification". Then I thought to trace it from the Greek origin - charis, meaning - favour or kindness. The biblical description given is: "A gift brought to man by Jesus Christ". At that description my eyes closed and my heart responded.

Q: What was the gift that Jesus brought us?

A: That brought me back to "sanctification" - the gift (favour) brought to man by Jesus Christ. The summary of grace. Pointing towards: "A love like no other love we have ever known. A love outside the lines."

Q: What makes us worthy of such a love? Is it because we are the crown of creation that this love and such grace exist?

A: The Strongs dictionary explains that the word "charis" is preeminently used of the Lord's favour – freely extended to give Himself away to people (because He is "always leaning toward them"). or like Phillip Yancy puts it - "Grace is free, because the Giver itself has borne the cost".

Q. Why would he (1) give Himself away to us, and (2) be always leaning toward us?


They are intertwined like the branches of a vine. Love in grace and grace in love.

Q: But which came first then?

A: Here I found a verse from Scripture, which also happened to be part of our bible study this week: This is real love - not that we love God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. (1 John 4:10 NLT)

Q: What does it mean to have your sins taken away?

A: This took me back to "sanctification" - the gift brought to man by Jesus Christ. We were sanctified and made righteous before God. GRACE was extended because LOVE existed and both were and are personified in JESUS.

Q: So if grace is extended freely, is nothing expected of me? 

A: For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

Faith. The confidence in what we hope for, assurance about what we do not see (Heb 11:1)

Q: What is the assurance that we do or can not see?

A: So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. (2 Cor 4:18)

Q: What is eternal?

A: The Kingdom of God. Which brings me right back to: JESUS. We fix our eyes on Him and we receive grace, not purely confessing with our mouths that we believe in Him, but fixing our eyes on Him. His eyes on you and your eyes on Him.

Q: Why?

A: LOVE...

I feel a bit like I have been on a merry-go-round. I got on, not knowing what the ride would bring. As the circular motion began, I was given glimpses of where I got on, a bit blurred at times, but when the wheel stopped, I was right were I started. Relieved to stand back and see: It began with Jesus, is sustained through Jesus and will end with Jesus.

God is love and therefore grace exists.
God is love and therefore I was made in His likeness.
God is love and therefore Jesus His Son was given.
God is love and therefore Jesus is love.
Jesus is love and therefore He died for me.
Jesus died for me and therefore I am sanctified.
Jesus died for me and therefore I have eternal hope.
Jesus died for me and therefore bought me with His blood.
Jesus bought me with His blood and therefore I am His.
I am His and therefore He lives in me.
Jesus is alive in me and therefore I am alive in Him.
I am alive in Jesus and therefore nothing can satisfy the heart of Jesus except my love! - (take time to think about this one).

I realised that in writing about grace, I ended up writing about love. I honestly had not planned or predicted it. It is just so simply, beautifully, wonderfully true. The "theme" verse at the top I found after completing the blog, not like my usual habit of writing a message based on a verse pointed out to me.

Grace points to love. And: Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. (John 15:13)

If you, like me, feel a bit dizzy from the roundabout ride, go again, a bit slower this time. Stop at each truth and let it speak to you. Soak up that vast and wonderful Love, through which the most precious Life of all was laid down, so that grace may flow, freely. To all who fix their eyes on Him. Jesus, the giver of life, grace and LOVE.

(1) Mike Yaconelli - Dangerous Wonder