As a kid growing up with my two brothers and sister, I learned how to share space, clothing, time, chores, my bed, car, etc. In Sunday School I learned the stories of Jesus and about his generous love, grace, peace, joy, hope, guidance, patience, and justice for all the children of the world. Through the church I learned what a tithe was and how to value and use my financial resources as well as my talents. In the wider world I learned how to care for the earth, grow food, till the soil, shop, schedule my time and use of energy, make a place for everyone, and live within my means. I learned tools of life from my parents, grandmothers, and teachers. And I learned how to live my faith and offer others the gift of what had been offered to me – the gift of grace.
In the church we hear a lot about God’s grace and love. We can find many verses in the Bible that begin or end with, “God’s grace and love be with you,” or “Grace to you and the peace from God above be upon you.” One of the most well-known hymns of the church, “Amazing Grace” written by John Newton (1725–1807), is about the change of heart, mind, and soul that Newton encountered through experiencing God’s grace. Newton was a captain of a slave ship, a profitable and popular occupation at the time. After several years he underwent a conversion through an encounter with the dramatic force of grace. He left the slave trade – a livelihood that robbed life from others – and began to offer what had been offered to him – grace.
Christianity is a religion and spiritual path that is grounded in God’s generous grace. Though modeling God’s grace could draw us together, too often we encounter attitudes, stances, and positions of rejection, division, and separation. Knowing the power of grace in our own lives, why would we withhold it from our neighbors? Why not invest every bit of ourselves in sharing the inexhaustible gift of grace with others?
God’s generous grace given to the world, to people like Newton, you, or one such as me, will always emerge. As followers of Jesus grace has changed us and we can’t help but give it away. Here’s hoping that we each find creative ways to share the gift of grace with those we encounter.
Grace always wins!