“For it is by grace you are saved, and this is not your doing; it is the gift of God…”
Someone once observed that we have no choice about choice. Thrust into the world, life is on our hands and with it comes an automatic culpability which we cannot escape. Life demands response in every aspect. Even choosing to sit it out is a choice. And if you do, someone else must choose to pick up your slack.
What this means is that, by nature, life is full of demands which force us to be responsible creatures. When the New Testament speaks of being born under the demands of the law, this is what it means. And these demands, which come at us in all the structures of existence, are the voice of God.
How do we respond? The story of Adam and Eve gives insight here. Faced with their culpability, both of them threw up their defenses. Adam blamed God for giving him Eve and Eve blamed the serpent for hoodwinking her. Their knee-jerk response to God’s inquiry was self-justification, self-defense. We can see this in ourselves all the time. We are quick to blame, quick to mount a defense. In a world of self-defenders this is how you get along. This is how life goes in a world of law.
In Jesus, God’s voice also speaks the dialect of grace. For if the voice of law is meant to call us to fulfill our responsibilities, even more does the voice of grace calls us to trust in the forgiveness of God. The law reveals our culpability. Grace reveals God’s mercy.
Jesus was a threat to many because He lived out His humanity not primarily in response to law but to grace. Self-defense was not His way. Entrusting Himself to the grace of the Father was His way, even to death on the Cross.
The way of the Christian is this radical way of grace. The freedom of faith permits us to assume the responsibilities of life without resorting to self-defense or blame. Faith has nothing to fear. As a result, the Christian is free to live in love beyond the limits of law and trust in God’s grace – alone – with a joyful daring.
“May the peace of God that passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Lord.”