Tuesday, July 03, 2007


I've been reading a lot from Matthew lately. And I haven't even opened my Bible to do so! Hehe... I'm talking about email exchanges that I've had with someone named Matthew, as well as his blog. Matthew came to the Lord about a year ago and has recently really begun growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

I just wanted to share something he wrote to me yesterday. (I received his permission to quote him here). Matthew has shared openly with me and on his blog how he struggles to simply let go and live in the grace of God, and I can certainly relate! A lot of this has to do with our perception of God. Do we see Him as angry and wrathful towards us, or do we see Him with abundant grace, being our strength when we are weak, rather than our enemy when we are weak? Do we understand that "weakness" is the very best we have to offer a holy God! And therefore, do we simply accept the free gift of His abundant, ongoing, never ending grace, for every moment and square inch of our lives?

What Matthew shared with me really has a lot to do with changing perceptions about God:
"That is another thing that is amazing about grace. I thought I had my doctrinal puzzle nearly completed, but when I finally gave up on anxiety,worry and condemnation as motivation for changing myself...Grace flipped my board over and scattered the pieces and now I have about 2 that fit. It is very exciting...It's like reading the Bible all over again, learning about God all over again, and this time I actually like Him! Haha"
The person given one talent in the parable of the talents perceived his master to be "a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid..." (Matthew [hehe] 25:24-25). Do you perceive God to be "a hard man?" Does God "reap where He has not sown" and "gather where He has not scattered seed?" Are we so afraid of God because we have the wrong ideas about who He is?

What if, like my friend Matthew, we begin to see the God of the Bible as being rich in grace (Eph 1:7), kind toward us (Eph 2:7), our comforter (2 Cor 1:4)... that He Himself is our peace (Eph 2:14), and that He delivered us from the ministry of death and condemnation (2 Cor 3:7,9) and has made us "alive together with Him, having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us." (Col 2:13-14). Do we see that in Christ "dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily - and you are complete in Him, who is the head of all principality and power." (Col 2:9-10).

If we see God as a harsh master, it is very hard to like Him, never mind love Him. But if we see Him through the lens of the grace that He gives us so freely and abundantly, we can read the Bible and actually like and love the God we're reading about and getting to know better and better. And if we understand that God's patience is everlasting and without end (unlike our human patience that ultimately snaps), then we see that He's not in the same hurry that we are to conform ourselves to His image. I honestly don't believe that He's as worried about our behavior modification as He is concerned that we learn to simply trust His goodness. I don't mean that we don't change and I don't mean that we just stay as we are. I just mean that while we're in a hurry to grow and to change, God knows better! Being weak in and of ourselves, the only thing that can truly change our behavior is GRACE! And I fully believe that trusting in His goodness and kindness is just the start of walking in grace. We can come to the throne of grace boldly, and yet in weakness, because it's there, and only there, that we find real life and strength. Life and strength that is the ongoing gift of our God who is love, and not something we are struggling to offer to some harsh master.

I also like Matthew's puzzle piece analogy. The Bible hasn't changed (well, unless you count all the different versions). I mean, God's word hasn't changed, but our understanding of it is always changing. My own doctrinal understandings got entirely flipped upside down as well, and I've been enjoying watching God put the pieces back together in truth. It reminds me of Paul's words to the Colossians:
"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth..." (Col 1:2-6)
"Bringing forth fruit... since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth." My prayer for myself and anyone else reading this is for us all to continue to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18) and that we would know the grace of God in truth, and the fruit that comes from it!