As we begin a New Year, many people make resolutions as a way of bringing about change and greater satisfaction in life. There are those who consider it a way of “reinventing” their selves. I hate to be the one who burst the bubble but when we reinvent our self we are still left with—our self.
Same thing holds true for those seeking a “new normal.” Do me a favor and tell me what “normal” means. From my perspective, everyday and every moment of everyday, is a gift. And obviously, if there is a gift then there must be a giver. My faith, and the Christian tradition holds that “every perfect gift I from above, coming down from the Father of lights.” (James 1:17)
Certainly, this is a nice thought especially during Epiphany, the season of lights. But there is more at work especially as we reflect on the nature of renewal and entering into not simply a new year but a New Life in Christ. Jesus is born into our world with life “full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14) Notice the Gospel of John reads Jesus is “full” of grace. That means there is plenty of grace. There is enough grace to go around. There is no shortage of grace. Yes, St. Paul writes: “grace abounds” (Romans 5:20) and he is aware in a vision, a revelation from God saying these words, “my grace is sufficient for you.” (2 Corinthians 12:9)
Trust me, I am not simply quoting bible verses or making a case for grace. I have been asked the question: “what difference does grace make?” And the answer is grace makes all the difference in the world. Here’s why.
When we make resolutions, when we bust our gut trying to change, when we trip and fall and are ready to throw in the towel, God’s grace picks us up, cleans us off, and provides us with the necessary strength to move forward in life now with Jesus who not only saves us but encourages to take his yoke and learn from him. This is how grace works. It is a gift that keeps on giving—remember Jesus is full of grace—because there is plenty of grace to go around. There is no need to measure grace, or calculate, or gage how much grace we need to do this or that. What is required of us is to simply ask for God’s grace and then as it enters our lives know it is sufficient—it is all we need. So, again what difference does grace make?
The late Dallas Willard often would refer to “grace is God acting in our lives to accomplish what we cannot do on our own.” Dallas understood grace as a form of strength, a power, a sense of courage assisting us and helping to do the work of God. Of course, many of us have learned in life before we can do the work of God, God needs to do some work in us. And the work God does is filled with grace.
Grace is often the difference between right and wrong, trues and false, life and death. It is grace that brings about a life of renewal in away where we learn from Jesus, where we conduct our lives to the glory of God, and become aware of the power found in the life of the Kingdom of God. It is a New Life, a never-ending life, and an abundant life because with grace we now experience a life-with-God.