Updated: Aug 30, 2019
Here's how it should go:
If you buy dinner, I'm buying dessert. If you give me a free ride, I'll pay for your gas. If you give me a gift, I'm giving you one back.
That's how it should go.
So, when we begin to talk about the free gift of God's grace, you should understand why that would make me, and millions of others, uncomfortable.
In fact, I believe that God's grace is the reason why a lot of people don't believe in Christ. I truly think that some people believe His grace is almost too good to be true. I've heard in "Evolution v. Creation" debates how scientists and doctors hold this theory that God was entirely made up by man, so that instead of feeling guilt whenever we mess up, we have it in our heads that somehow, somewhere, a perfect and forgiving higher power will excuse us. Instead of feeling shame, we created an idea of some loving God to convince ourselves of some sort of purpose or liberty. In other words, people believe that God's grace, which saves, redeems, and is offered to us freely, is just too good to be true.
However, in all honesty... Can you blame them?
Who just freely offers grace the way God does—with no strings attached? That all we have to do is accept Christ into our hearts to be free from all of our sin? We're not used to that down here on earth. If we're forgiven, it's almost odd for the other person to truly forget. Or, if we're asked for forgiveness, we tend to take 3-5 business days to think about. Or, if we do forgive, we're short with the other person. We may hold a grudge until we forget why we were even mad in the first place. Yet, on the other hand, Christ forgives us in an instant when we ask and extends an invitation to start over. Of course that's hard to believe in a world where we really don't forget anything.
I've mentioned at the beginning of this post how I feel gift exchanges should work. You give some, I'll get you some. You give a lot, I'll give you more. That's why when we speak about this free gift of grace, a grace that I did nothing to deserve and a grace that would be impossible to even strive for, it makes me—and maybe you too—a little uncomfortable. What does The Bible mean when it says that God's grace is free, yet undeserved? That I can't put down payments on it or work for it? Aren't we all kind of waiting for the catch? For example, if God offers us grace, shouldn't we be breaking our backs for punishment? Or maybe lose some of our sleep? Perhaps He wants us to make up for what we did last week? Does God expect us to buy Him dinner in exchange?
We think this way because we know that a grace this extravagant, extraordinary, and relentless just can't be free. And, you know what? We're right. Someone had to pay the price. It would make sense if you and I had to empty our wallets, collectively do a good deed here and there, decide on a just punishment according to each of our sins to pay for this grace. Yet, just when you think it couldn't get any better, just when you thought that man wasn't imaginative enough (...kidding!), it was God who paid the ultimate price by sending His Son Jesus to die on a cross meant for you and I so we may be able to step into the fullness of God's grace. This is why all we have to do is believe in the Son, Jesus Christ, to receive this gift. We can't purchase it because Jesus already paid for it. Therefore, while it makes us feel comfortable to try and earn salvation by "doing good" in attempts of paying God back, the truth is that "God saves you by His grace when you believe. And you can't take credit for this; it is a gift of God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it." (Ephesians 2:8-9 NLT).
This free gift is being offered to you today. And, if you're serious about accepting Christ into your life, it's a gift that will change you forever. Contrary to most beliefs, it won't be as if God is holding a gun to your head, forcing you to live differently or He'll shoot. This is a kind of grace, a kind of salvation, that'll make you want to surrender, that'll make you want to divorce your old way of life and marry a new. It's a grace that chases you down and cleans you up, a grace so free it may make you feel uncomfortable.
And, let's just be real.
Who doesn't like free gifts?