Grace-filled, part uno

I’m in the middle of a study on grace … I know the theological definitions, but something occurred to me recently. To define something is not live it or even truly understand it. Definitions seem to have a curious ability to control and limit something. So, I’ve had this nagging suspicion that perhaps my seeming “mastery” (ha ha) of the theological nuances of grace has really kept me from accepting and extending grace. Perhaps, the more I realize I don’t know something – the more power it can have in my life.

So, I’ve been reading and re-reading a passage in Titus 2 that says that “the grace of God has appeared – teaching us to say ‘no’ to ungodliness.” And my question is: how exactly does that happen? It sounds amazing and definitely something for which I’d sign up. But, teaching us to say no? Understanding that grace is God’s “umerited, unconditional love” wouldn’t seem to teach me to say no to ungodliness. Quite the opposite – if I know that I can do anything and He still loves me … moral license and liberty would seem to follow. And, certainly, that is the temptation for an underwhelming view of grace – a surface view of grace. In fact, most of the New Testament writings focus on correcting a shallow view of grace which leads to license. Often, the corrective is that “you can’t do anything you want.” However, this falls short because it takes away from true grace — “I can do anything and He still loves me.” If I can’t do anything, then it’s not unconditional love. Understand, I’m not negating the presence of possible natural consequences or even Fatherly discipline. So, rather than stripping grace down – perhaps there is more there/a depth which is not apparent on the surface.

What has occured to me is this … grace teaches us to say no when we understand what “ungodliness” is and what grace truly is. While grace says that “I can do anything I want and He still loves me” … at a deeper level, grace says “I can do nothing.” I can do absolutely nothing to achieve the life that God has created for me. I can do absoltely nothing to live well. The implication is that I am absolutely dependent upon Him. Ungodliness is simply living a life that is the result of thinking that I can do life on my own. Ungodliness is living independently of God.

So, grace teaches me to say no because I finally understand that I can do nothing … life is a gift – a gift that I enjoy in dependent relationship with God.

So, being aware that my desire to define things is trying to rear its ugly head … I simply rest in the realization that I have very little idea of how to consciously, moment by moment live in my “can do nothing” state. Then again, perhaps resting there is the whole point.


~ by Ted Wueste on September 1, 2008.

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