Friday, May 14, 2010

GRACE ALONE






This was what I recollected at the beginning of a new academic year when I was still in theological college. As we sang “Grace Alone” during morning chapel, it made me realize how much grace has been lavished on me. It seemed only recently that I was just another “green” student with all the corresponding anxieties and doubts about making it. Yet after a year, I was listening to another batch of students expressing the same doubts and anxieties. As I was reflecting on my experiences, I thought of how each student in the college, indeed everyone of us, need God’s grace in every facet and experience of our daily lives.

GRACE is indeed God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense freely bestowed on us. Yet in the busyness and urgent demands of our daily lives, we sometimes forget this very precious free gift we have. Instead we trust in our own natural abilities to carry us through. Although we may still accomplish much, yet our failure to appreciate our need for God’s grace may actually cause a rift, without us realizing it, in our relationship with Him. Perhaps, that is why God allows crises and adversity to enter our lives so that, in His mercy, our spiritual lethargy does not grow to the extent of threatening our walk with Him.

This is why to guard against spiritual sluggishness, we need to practice daily the disciplines of grace – prayer, Bible reading and study, reflection and worship. These disciplines are more than mere ritual. Think about it, the omnipotent God has chosen to walk with you. Is that not grace? As we exercise these disciplines of grace, we are actually communing with Him. We can hear Him. We can see His glory. And we gain in seeing a greater vision of his plans and strategies for mankind. We gain in the growth of our spiritual muscles to avail ourselves of even more grace in our times of desperate need. Amazing grace it is indeed that we mere mortals can connect with a God who is sovereign over all there is and be empowered by His grace.

Perhaps that is why we may also experience materially-rich but spiritually-defeated lives. We do not take Him seriously. Instead we take Him as a hobby and give Him the leftovers in our lives – we talk to Him when we have leftover time, we worship Him when we have leftover Sundays and we give to Him when we have leftover money. We are attracted by the world but we are jaded with the church. As a result, we have much power, possessions and privilege but yet we fail to forgive readily, we question the goodness and purposes of God and we fail in obeying Him regularly.

Dear readers, inasmuch as I write these words to you, I am also preaching to myself. Amidst the abundance of spiritual resources and material as I was studying in theological college, my greatest fear was that these spiritual riches so easily available to me become mundane instead of spectacular. I had to constantly guard against practicing the disciplines of grace merely for the sake of having something to write in my assignments or to share with a study group or to preach on Sundays.

I have to remember that these disciplines of grace are the channels by which I enter His presence and experience Him. It is not easy and I must admit sometimes I fail. It is only because of God’s mercy that when I fail, I do not fall too far.

Grace alone, which God supplies,
Strength unknown He will provide,
Christ in us, our Cornerstone,
We will go forth, in grace alone

(from the hymn, “Grace Alone”)

Let us then remember that Christianity is a faith that connects us to a living God and transforms us.

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