“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:8-10
Imagine something with us for a minute. Your life is a book and on its pages is everything you’ve ever thought, done, or imagined from the day you were born on - the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sounds a little scary, right?
But imagine a second book. This book includes all the same stuff, but about Jesus’ life. Every single second, but the difference? He was perfect. He never sinned or didn’t live up to God’s standard for even a single second. Now, this is where it gets crazy. Imagine if you removed the covers from both books, and switched them. So Jesus’ name goes on the contents of your book, and your name goes on His. He takes responsibility for everything you have done, and you are credited with His perfection.
That friends is grace! Grace is God’s free gift to you. You haven’t done (and you can’t do) anything to earn it or deserve it or pay Him back for it. But because He loves us, Jesus died to pay for our sins. Just like in the book analogy, He took on the punishment for every way we have gone wrong, so that when God looks at us, He sees every way Jesus was right. If it’s hard to wrap your mind around, that’s because we don’t have anything to compare it to in our world. This is the greatest love, the greatest sacrifice, the greatest gift anyone has ever imagined!
Pastor Tim Keller says it well, “The gospel is this: We are more sinful and flawed in ourselves than we ever dared believe, yet at the very same time we are more loved and accepted in Jesus Christ than we ever dared hope.” We are so that sinful God had to die for us, but we are so loved that He was willing to. We haven’t done anything to earn that kind of love - it is His free gift to us, His great grace.
Christians will spend their whole lives reminding themselves over and over again of this truth. But the more you understand it, and accept it, the more we love Him and worship him in return. If someone gave up everything for you, just because they care about you that much, wouldn’t it change the way you felt about them? The more we recognize our own sin, the more beautiful what He did for us is, and in turn, the more we want to live every second for Him.
We follow God and obey His commands not to try to earn our salvation or His love, but in response to the truth that we are already saved. We are already fully loved. Everything else flows out of that!