And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
I accepted Christ as my Savior at the age of nine at Forest Home Christian Conference. Soon after, my family changed churches and began attending the Church of the Open Door where Dr. J. Vernon McGee pastored. It was a great heritage to sit under his teaching and other great men who filled that pulpit over the years. I was active in choir and youth group and basically our schedule revolved around the many times we drove to Fifth and Hope in downtown Los Angeles.
College, marriage, children, and moving caused me to rethink some of the “rules and regulations” that I grew up with. I didn’t realize it at the time but it was a very legalistic church. Dancing, movies, cards, and alcohol were on the no-no list. When I was in high schooI, I can remember Christian Endeavor meetings on Sunday nights with panels on these subjects. We were big into “truth” but not much into “grace.”
Truth is important but legalism is a grace killer. Truth gives substance to beliefs but grace allows discussion of differing ideas. Truth demands perfection while grace lets you color over the lines. Truth is back and white while grace is gray.
That all sounds simple but I have struggled to learn it over the years. I am naturally a rule-keeper, list maker kind of gal. I follow the recipe exactly. I remember a conversation with my daughter that rocked her world. I made the comment, “You have to know the rules before you can break the rules.” We were talking about baking and there is definitely some chemistry involved that has to be adhered to. But she looked at me like I had two heads. The thought of breaking a rule was incomprehensible coming out of my mouth. So I really get the “truth” part. Learning grace is an ongoing challenge.
After I left for college, my parents started attending the First Evangelical Free Church in Fullerton when Chuck Swindoll was the senior pastor. I listened to a podcast this week where he, his daughter, and his grandson talked about grace in families. It was interesting to listen to the three generations as they talked about the world they grew up in and the world we live in now. We are sadly lacking in grace these days.
I’ve had a couple of situations in the last six months that have tested my grace reservoir. I can choose to be right and lose the battle, or I can give up my right to be right and have a conversation. Grace is the WD 40 that allows movement rather than being stuck. Patience and forgiveness are key components in the process, too.
Remember God’s grace? How can we withhold grace considering how much has been given to us? Without it, we are lost in our own mire of stubbornness and sin. With it, we have the potential of restored relationships and the assurance of heaven.
The chorus of an old hymn comes to mind:
Grace, Grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse with-in;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin.