We Are Who We Are Because of The Grace of God
But by the grace of God I am what I am.
1st Corinthians [15:10]
I am sure you have heard the phrases, By the grace of God or I am saved by the grace of God. So what is God’s grace? The simplest answer is; grace is God’s love towards us, which has not been earned by us but given freely by God. The multiple branches of this statement in explanation are long and if all are followed, provide more insight if carefully worked by the mind.
The amount of theological doctrine relating to grace is immense and it seems that not all can quite agree. Some parts are agreed to by some and others have other dimensions of grace to explain.
And that is part of the point about grace, each person receives and feels God’s grace differently. But its effect on the individual is universal. So universal that God’s grace is perhaps the most important aspect of the Bible. In our relationship with God, it starts with God’s desire to be in relationship with us. A compelling desire by God that is not diminished by our rejection of God.
Jesus is a prime example of grace. The cross, His life, and resurrection were all done as a result of God’s grace. The forgiveness of our sins was unearned. Simply, an innocent entity stood in for us on the cross. The lessons of Jesus become guideposts for our lives, yet they have been given freely. The resurrection of Jesus was to defeat death for us. Again, an extraordinarily powerful act, that was not deserved but given.
Creation itself is the gift of grace. We live in a vibrant world filled with colors, light, mountains, and lakes. Even in our most vivid moments, it would be impossible for any human to create what God has made.
Now some will say all humankind is totally depraved and we need God’s grace to redeem us. I do not buy into total depravity and many have tried to convince me that all of humankind is totally depraved. All well-intentioned opinions and certainly well documented in theological research. I am not there and I know I have a minority viewpoint of this issue. I will readily admit we all fall short, and I certainly have. But I believe part of grace is the innate goodness I see in people.
While I can continue the list of God’s activities to benefit humankind, it is doubtful I could ever finish. So, let’s keep this simpler and focus on how God’s grace affects the individual. In 1st Corinthians [15:10], Paul states; But by the grace of God, I am what I am. In these ten words, I find all I need to know.
For instance, I do not exist without grace. Paul is clear; he is because of God. And so it is with each of us. Sure some will say we are because of evolution. And from my viewpoint, that is true when we consider that evolution was God’s mechanism for creating us. Evolution is the medium and God is the creator. Now let’s be careful here, there are plenty who disagree with me on this point and believe God created us from dust. That very well may be the case, if you are a literalist. Being metaphorical, I tend to complicate these issues and always try to connect science with God’s activity. But either way, grace is what made us what and who we are.
Also, in this statement is another definition of who we are. Specifically, as it relates to us as individuals. Some are good with numbers, others are strong with language and we have those who are good with science. And each of us has a blending of all human traits. So when Paul says; By the grace of God I am what I am, he is also specifically talking about his uniqueness. The gifts of talents we receive were delivered to us by the grace of God.
But did God have to give us our gifts or make us wonderfully made? Well no, but God did and this is grace. Our own individuality is the gift of grace.
Another thing I love about Paul’s statement is his humble and wise recognition of where his strength comes from. By saying; by the grace of God…, he gives full credit to who he is and what he accomplishes to the grace of God. He knows the source of his power and his very existence. And at the same time humbly admits he is and what he accomplishes is through the grace of God.
So while all that we are and do is because of the grace of God, it is experienced by the individual differently from person to person. It is certainly a worthwhile effort to type into Google; quotes about the grace of God. When you do, you will find hundreds of quotes, all correct, but all different.
When I posted on twitter the following question; what is grace to you?; Likewise, I received wonderfully rich answers from many different points of view. Most were theologically correct, but all came from a different point of view.
So it seems to me that Grace is experienced differently person by person. But at the same time, it is always a free and unmerited gift of love from God. Not that we don’t deserve it, but more that we didn’t earn it.
So while I could spend many more days researching grace, I believe Paul has summed it best when he said; but by the grace of God, I am what I am. Leading to the question, who is the person that God wants us to be? In answering this question, we answer our own personal question of what does grace mean to me?
Listen to the Full Podcast – We Are Who We Are Because of the Grace of God
Blessings, until next time,
Bruce L. Hartman