11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. 15 These things speak and exhort and reprove with all authority. Let no one disregard you.
How glorious and loving our God is! I can’t help but to get excited when I read this passage. THIS is the Good News folks. We must take care to remember this message. Too often it gets distorted, religionified (yes, I just made up a word), and is taught to be things it is not. Paul mentioned that God’s grace “appeared”. He didn’t say we earned it or that we (or some group of people) did something for it to appear. Rather, it happened, because God said so. Period.
Furthermore, as we read in 12, God gave us instructions so that we may live freely and enjoy this grace, which He has poured out for us. Sometimes we think that it works the other way around: that we must live according to the rules so maybe we can receive a little grace. If we had to earn grace, then it wouldn’t be grace at all! It would be a result of our own doing. Grace cannot be grace if it is earned. As Paul continues in 13, we say what it means to live sensibly, righteously and godly. It is the constant looking forward to the return of Christ! This is something we get to enjoy because of grace.
So, why did God come to earth and go through all this in the first place? BECAUSE HE LOVES US! We are his creation and He wants us to be in relationship with Him. Even though we fell out of relationship with Him, He has made it possible for us to re-enter that relationship guilt free. Ever read the story of the prodigal son? WE are the prodigals that He welcomes back with open arms, a feast, and adornment of treasures. It was for us He sacrificed. It is for us He continues to forgive us when we turn our backs on Him.
How have we distorted this message today? Have we created a hierarchal system by which mere men promise grace and reward based on performance? Have we led others to believe that God only loves them because of how they live? Have we trusted others that have told us that we must live a certain way before we can enter into a relationship with Him? God’s Kingdom is “upside down” from this world. We don’t act to earn in our relationship with God. Rather, He gives to us freely and we simply react to what He has already given us. We don’t live expectant of Christ’s return for reward. We don’t live free of addiction and sin in order to be “good enough.” We live free because He has set us free!!!