Only by Grace

Most of the time, I’m a hopeless Christian – especially when you consider that the literal meaning of Christian is “little Christ”.  Most of the time I bear very little to Jesus, who …

Who, being in very nature God,
did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
by taking the very nature of a servant,
being made in human likeness.
And being found in appearance as a man,
he humbled himself
by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
(Philippians 2)

In short, the characteristics of Christ are obedience, humility and sacrifice.  Frankly, I don’t really like any of those.  They don’t come naturally to me.  Sacrifice in particular sounds a little too painful for my liking.  Add to that the fact that Jesus was sinless and I’m even more stuffed, because I’m sinful.  I could try harder to sin less, to be more obedient, humble and sacrificial, but I’ll still fall well short of the required standards.  I might make some progress if I grit my teeth, but I’ll fall short.  I might even be better than other people, but I’ll still fall short.  Why? Because benchmark has been set by Jesus, who said, “Be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).  Well, that’s easy, isn’t it!? I really am stuffed!
 Despite all that I find myself as one of God’s “official” representatives, a full-time ordained priest.  I’m authorised to bless and forgive people in Jesus’ name (or more accurately, to pronounce God’s blessing and forgiveness).  I stand at the Communion table as we remember the Last Supper and I stand in Jesus’ name to recall the words he spoke about his body being broken and his blood being shed for the salvation of the whole world.  I’m called to represent Jesus and to minister to people at the best (baptisms and weddings) and worst (illness and funerals) times of their lives.  It is the greatest of privileges.  It’s probably the best job in the world.  And I’m absolutely clear about one thing – I am completely undeserving of this role and vocation – as I’ve already said, I’m a rubbish Christian.  What can possibly qualify me for the job I do?

The answer is Jesus.  It was he who called me.  It was he who, though he know no sin, that I might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).  It is he who has made me worthy.  It is he who lives within me and gives me the strength to even come close to pleasing him.  It is he who has given me hope and purpose.  I stand in grace alone.  I’m here only by grace, and because of that I want to live a life worthy of him, that proclaims his love. And I pray that God will help me to proclaim his love in everything I do, so that others may see and encounter this grace for themselves in such a way that it changes their lives forever.

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