My absolutely-debatable comprehension of ‘Grace’

I used to be a good student all up until I reached junior college. I participated in scholarship exams and all the creative things school had to offer. I won a lot of those too. I loved collecting certificates. For some strange reason, I assumed they’d help me in life. Anyway, then came college and my grades took a serious downward spiral. For yet another strange reason I took maths, although I hated it. I didn’t ever study it all through college because I knew I just had to pass the prelims to qualify for the boards and the rest of the examinations didn’t really matter. I had all the time in the world, right? Well, somehow an entire year just passed by and it was time for my boards. So, I tried to study some. Whoever managed to figure out trigonometry in a few days, eh?! If you have been following my blogs or know me personally or if you just read my introduction on the homepage, you’ll know I’m an unrealistically hopeful person. Hope is ingrained in me just like East Indian bottle masala (instead of blood) in my veins. So, I went for my exam. I sat there confused and tried my hand at problem solving. But, all I had to do was put my hopes on GRACE. Remember, grace marks? …when the teachers felt bad for you and threw some digits in your favour if you needed just a manageable amount to get you through? Well, yes – that grace….unmerited, undeserving favour dependent on and stemming from the mercy of a kind heart.

Let the presence of God and His will propel you

Divine grace is a theological term present in many religions. It has been defined as the divine influence which operates in humans to regenerate and sanctify, to inspire virtuous impulses, and to impart strength to endure trial and resist temptation; and as an individual virtue or excellence of divine origin. – Wikipedia. With no disrespect to St. Agustine and several other theologians and scholars of the Church, to me grace has a rather simple interpretation. Grace is ‘the presence of God’. Try replacing the word ‘grace’ in any scripture with these words now – ‘the presence of God’. Tell me; does it still make sense to you? Is it contradictory to anything Christianity teaches? I don’t think so. I am all for correction. I mentioned in few of my posts before that I am not a theologian and I do not possess the charisms of the Spirit. So, I don’t dare to challenge anybody. This is what I understand as a lay person. I believe, my personal interpretation is not contradictory to scripture (my moral compass). The presence of God brings brightness, righteousness, joy, peace, love and undeserving favour amongst many other things. The absence of God leaves us with a vacuum in our hearts, seeking solace, approval, love, happiness, purpose, belonging, purity and enlightenment.

Not on account of our own merit or credibility

Grace is a gift. It is not because of our own merit or credibility that we receive the benefits of grace. ‘You did not choose me; I chose you and appointed you to go and bear much fruit, the kind of fruit that endures. And so the Father will give you whatever you ask of him in my name.’ -John 15:16. This verse is immediately followed by a simple, yet extremely difficult-to-practise command. John 15:17 says, ‘This, then, is what I command you: love one another.‘ It is not on our own accord. Even in our tainted state, when we {willfully} don the righteousness of Christ, we receive the Holy Spirit who resides in us. Our body becomes a temple of God. The presence of God automatically attracts divine favour through our merit in obedience with this command – love. Love one another, as I have loved you. It is not in perfection that God favours us, but our attempted obedience and love that magnetically attracts divine favour. Matthew 6:33 tells us, ‘ But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.’ Again in Luke chapter 12, we find a similar verse. ‘Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.‘ This is how I connect the dots:-

  1. Seek His righteousness {which is Jesus/ and through Jesus}.
  2. Be filled with the Holy Spirit {or grace, aka – the presence of God}.
  3. You will automatically gain divine favour through the commandment of love.
My grace is sufficient for you. -2 Corinthians 12:9

Righteousness comes through Jesus. We are incapable of attaining righteousness without the redeeming and cleansing precious blood of Jesus. Grace also comes through Jesus. In John 16:7, Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to help us. It is not through our own merit. But favour, I believe it comes through the commandment of love in obedience to His will. They are all so interlinked that it almost seems like it is one and the same thing.

Don’t just seek the solution to your current problem 😉

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” -2 Corinthians 12:9. Let me attempt to simplify my theory. Most people seek God as the last alternative when all other options are wiped off their list. By then, they are weary and all they want is a solution to their problem. They come looking for Santa Claus with a list of goodies. Some of them take a vain shot at bribing Santa by being temporarily nice. “I’ve been a good soul these few months; now can I have this…?” They’re seeking remedies. They only want a particular problem/ multiple problems fixed. They’re not really seeking God. They just want their tangled mess to be detangled. Try the reverse order. Instead of seeking favour first, seek Jesus/the kingdom of God/His righteousness. It is an act of total surrender. You don’t have to be perfect at all. God loves to get down and dirty with you in the quicksand. Like I mentioned at the beginning of this paragraph, He will use your weakness and make it your strength. Don’t wait for perfection to approach the altar of repose; come with your burdens, your filth and your knots. All He needs is your free will, your desire to seek Him, to surrender, to obey. I know very well how difficult it is to ignore the problem at hand, especially if it is one that is actively draining your soul. But, just attempt. Don’t look for solutions to each problem. Instead, find the problem-solver and never let Him get away 😉 Once you have Him/ His presence/ grace/ the Holy Spirit abiding within you, He will align all things with His purpose and in accordance to His will, which is never a bad thing for you! You will find favour automatically through your obedience to the commandment of love. “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” -Matthew 11:28.

Seeking to detangle your mess?

By the way, do you want to know how much I scored in maths that year? Well, out of 100, one would need 35 marks to pass. So, I got……err…. 😉 Do you want to guess?

May the grace of God be with you!

Ruelha

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