Now I See

Sarah Dixon Young

My cousin once gave a class report about grace.

She brought a large candy bar and randomly chose someone to give it to during her presentation. The teacher was so impressed by her demonstration of “unmerited favor” that he told me the story as an example of how I could do a better job with my class presentations.

I have often attempted to define grace. Does God just pick us at random, like paper slips out of a hat? Is it something we work to attain?

Guilt plagues me sometimes when we sing about grace at church or when I read about it in popular Christian books. Why don’t I understand it like so many others seem to? Is it really random? Is it a ‘thing’ or is it more of an abstraction? 

When Jesus healed the blind man in John 9, the most important thing the man had to say was, “Though I was blind, now I see.”

The religious leaders wanted to know exactly how Jesus healed the man. What power made a man blind from birth have the ability to see?

That power is grace.

In his book Reclaiming Surrendered Ground, Jim Logan writes that the definition of grace can be found in Philippians 2:13: “for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure.” 

Here’s a definition I can understand!

When God works in us to create both the desire to obey Him and ability to obey Him, that is grace! It is true that we don’t deserve it (it’s unmerited) and that we can’t attain it through any sacramental means. It is like the blind man- He couldn’t make himself see any more than we can make ourselves have the ability to do what God says.

But once His grace has stepped in, now we see! He is the God who sees us, and we are called to be people who use His vision to see where He wants us to work and to do it.

Just as none are excluded from the invitation to come to Jesus for salvation, none who come are excluded from His grace working in us. We must accept His invitation to be changed.

The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way: “Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality, nor thieves, nor the greedy, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you.”

When we are honest, we agree with Paul. This list has our name all over it. We cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. We are blind to it. Everyone is blind to it.

But then comes the Good News: “But you were washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and by the Spirit of our God.”

That is grace! Now, I see. 

That is how Paul could write, “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.”

K. William Boyer is the Managing Editor of the Devils Lake News Journal. He can be reached at kboyer@gannett.com, or by phone at (701) 662-2127.  

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