“It is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results... yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.”
—1 Corinthians 15:10 (NLT).
The Christian can and should be able to say, ‘Look at what his hands have done in me.’ For what God’s hands have done, nobody can dispute, the displayed body and mind are forever testimony of God’s grace and truth. This can be seen in at least two rapidly divergent ways—ways which are so diametrically opposed, yet ways which cannon forth God’s abundant grace over the life beheld.
We are both symbols of what it is for grace to lift a person up and improve upon that person, and equally, a sign of what significant a task remains—and that forevermore, until the last day. We love grace for this very reason. It takes us as we are; no holds barred. It transforms us, with our permission. It finally forgives our ongoing transgressions.
And this is the way the world ought to view Christians—through the godly gaze of God’s grace working in and through us; recognising the Christian simply as someone who’s recognised God’s grace in the act of Jesus crucified and risen (for me, for you, for all) and who is now a partner in grace—a journey really—for the rest of their natural lives.
It’s a commitment that anyone can admire. The Christian is willing the truth to come home in their lives. Indeed, they’ve found home!
As a trophy of his grace, this puts me in a strange situation that I might not have previously contemplated. People and God might begin to see me as a symbol of his grace.
Jesus used salt and light as two further symbols characterising what we are to represent:
“You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
—Matthew 5:13-16 (TNIV).
ü Does the foregoing mean that I am on display for him? Yes.
ü Do I need to obey the roadway speed limits? Yes.
ü Can I play golf on public reserves where it’s signposted not to? No.
ü Can I pick and choose who I’ll forgive? No.
ü Will my acts (many of which I’m probably not even aware of) be attributed by others as those of someone who follows Jesus? Yes; whether they’re good or indifferent, the answer is still, yes.
ü Am I allowed to push in when queuing in line? If I’m a trophy of his grace, why would I want to gain advantage over another? Wouldn’t I instead want to offer my place to another?
ü Does being a trophy of his grace mean it’s beneficial for me to focus regularly on my own hypocrisy (without letting it undermine my faith)? Yes. To reflect on it, in a healthy balanced way, means I can improve and become less hypocritical, allowing God to shape me more in his likeness.
How many ways are there to ‘shine our light’ or retain our salt? It’s infinite. We ought to always have this right in the forefront of our thinking:
“... that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”
We’re on show for his glory.
But, this is never an equal analysis unless we counter-attend with the fact of his grace working through us in our ongoing sinful nature.
It’s in this way—through the grace of ongoing forgiveness of the Most High, God—we’re a visual, bodily, living statement of his forgiveness, especially when we fall drastically short of his best for us.
As I fall short, he picks me up, dusts me off, (always) forgives and seeks me to move on, learning from my error.
Now, who could not fall in love with this God? It’s an all-win, no-lose situation.
© S. J. Wickham, 2009.