How to shift to the grace lane of Christianity
After reading Grace Is Not A Dirty Word I received a message that asked, “How do I embrace Grace now that I realize I have misconceptions about it? Now I know what grace is not, but what are the practical steps to making a change?”
This got me thinking. What I thought would be a few short points as turned into a two part series with 10 Steps to Embracing Grace. You can read the first five in my previous post. Here is the conclusion
10 Steps to Embracing Grace (Part 2)
“Genuine self-acceptance is not derived from the power of positive thinking, mind games or pop psychology. IT IS AN ACT OF FAITH in the God of grace.” -Brennan Manning
One of the most fun parts of grace is learning to accept yourself, and unashamedly living comfortably in your own skin. In a church world of behavior modification, and people trying to live up to the preference’s of man, it can be intimidating to do this. Honestly, I can’t guarantee that being the real you will be celebrated. I have just come to the place that I would rather be rejected for being who I really am than dealing with exhaustion that comes from trying to maintain an image that everyone likes.
Authenticity requires risk, but it also has much more opportunity for reward. It involved becoming more vulnerable with our shortcomings, but it opens the door to true freedom. There is a level beyond resurrection called L.I.F.E – Living In Freedom Everyday. Freedom goes a lot further than just liberty from the power of sin. It leads to authentic Christian existence.
A grace-filled person has given up on the hope of any perfect model other than Jesus. Examine your past teachings and current convictions through the example of Jesus. Start asking, what would Jesus do in this situation, instead of what do others expect me to do. Abandon every stereotype of what you think a Christian should behave and talk, and make it your goal to embrace what Christ would do and speak
Start reading the Bible differently. Instead of looking at passage through an old performance oriented filter, or a filter of God’s only happy with my perfection filer, try reading through a lens of grace. Don’t allow reading the Bible to become a checklist item that gives you confidence in your own self sufficiency. Reading the Bible is continuing a love conversation with God.
A few practical ways to read with lens of grace: I would suggest start reading in Galatians, and learn the difference between the true gospel and the false gospel. Consider taking a season just going through the Psalms and find healing. I probably spent at least 6 months just reading Psalms when I first reached a true place of realizing my need for God’s grace. Read the gospels and see how Jesus treated sinners and responded to religiously proud.
Books are a key part of growing in grace as well. Reading open doors to new understanding of God, and allow us to be mentored by great thinkers. Books scare those who are religiously minded, because they threaten their wrong ideas about spirituality. Those who hunger and thirst for God’s righteousness, not self-righteousness, will look for truth and allow it to confront and redirect their lives.
A grace-filled person knows that they need to guard their heart. You will have to guard against the old ways sneaking back into your life. You will have to learn to apologize frequently to keep your own heart pure. I have become an expert in apologizing to people; especially those I may actually believe owe me an apology. This is not being fake, it’s guarding my heart against making other people my debtors. I want to set people free, not become their prison guard. That’s no fun for either of us.
You will have to guard your heart against people misunderstanding your new positive Jesus oriented approach to life. You will also have to continue to guard your heart from pollutants that can distract you from the Lover of your soul.
I used to take pride in the fact that I didn’t like to rest. If a day went buy where I got a late start, or worse yet, didn’t accomplish anything, I’d get angry. I start to feel like I was wasting time. Condemnation and frustration would settle in down the hall like two wicked step sisters.
Then at some point I read an Japanese proverb that said, “He who rests is never tired.” Something clicked for me, and rest become a principle that supported two main ideas.
The Sabbath – true rest is part of worship. It acknowledges my need for God. It causes me to humbly admit that even if I did work 24/7 I could never accomplish everything God has for me without Him. It also causes me to pause long enough to appreciate things, and therefore express gratitude to God, that I would have missed if I stayed busy.
Longevity – “He who rests is never tired.” If I learn to recoup and rejuvenate, I will have more energy for the task at hand. I’ll be better prepared to do my best when it is time to work. I won’t burn out, and can last longer in the race. Every marathon has gatorade tables, and every runner that expects to win knows the importance of pacing himself.
Rest is not laziness. It is humility, worship and intentionality. We need to stop celebrating exhaustion and accomplishing things in our own strength.
I had no idea that I would have so much to say concerning practical steps to embracing Grace. This list is by no means comprehensive, and is no particular order. I just thought I’d share a few things I’ve learned from my own journey.
I’d love to hear from you. What are some practical ways you have learned to embrace grace? Send me a message or ad your comment to the conversation. Until next time…