One of the major themes I have been thinking a bit more on lately is the place of God’s amazing grace at work in Jesus everywhere, and especially through the gospel in and out from the church. Philip Yancey is perhaps the foremost evangelical writer who specifically targets this subject in a number of his books, the classic being What’s So Amazing About Grace? with at least a couple of books on grace following. I think it’s a needed emphasis in all church traditions, perhaps especially in the more traditional ones of which I am a part. The world for many of us seems to be coming loose at its hinges, but that might betray in us a view of the world which at times might be naive if we once thought that it was close to the kingdom of God.
But actually trying to find grace in the hard places can be a challenge. And yet we need to look no further than the mirror to know where grace is needed. In the midst of what righteousness might be present in God’s gift and the Spirit through Jesus, what is not good can so easily flame up and burn in and out from us. So that we should realize that the need for grace, for finding grace in the difficult places begins in ourselves.
But yet we need to take seriously those hard places where grace may not be as evident or in place as we would like, as we might expect. I’m certainly not referring to any entity of this world. I’m referring actually more to the church. And I’m not at all meaning that grace is hard to find, because it’s certainly present among those who are in Jesus. Just a reminder: Grace is God’s gift to us in Jesus, a gift which saves us from sin and from ourselves, and for what is good and right, for God and God’s good will for the world. Inevitably we will find the need for grace to be applied as we look for grace. The grace applied here is a kindness which is committed to the truth as it is in Jesus. If we don’t do this, we will find ourselves undone ourselves over what is lacking, which is only bad if we fail to recognize that as actually a part of what is true about us (Isaiah 6).
Grace means we don’t give up in spite of everything, not because of what we’re looking at itself, but only because of God, and the goodness from God present and at work. That is one of our most important tasks in this life, to find grace in the hard places. That thought simply being raised here, something we need to think and pray about, and seek to be putting into practice, in and through Jesus.