Guys, I gotta be honest – I find myself believing some really messed up lies about God’s grace, and frankly – I wouldn’t be surprised if deep down, you were believing them too.
Growing up I would always hear about God’s grace, and that sounded really sweet. Like what a nice guy that God is. Ya know? Pass the mashed potatoes please and thank you, and sure pass the grace this way too. I’ll take a spoonful, whatever that means.
For so long I would white knuckle my relationship with God. I beat myself up for everything, and honestly sometimes – I still do. I’m my own worst critic, and if I can’t even give myself grace, who is this God that says he gives it freely? I remember trying to almost hit the reset button when it came to sinning – like, okay, I know I just thought that really nasty thing about that person, but after this exact moment…I will work really really hard, and not sin – and then I’ll be closer to God, closer to heaven, and He’ll love me more. Obviously you know the end of that story – it never worked – and I would find myself in a tumultuous cycle of Christian guilt…which I just always thought was par for the course when it came to Jesus. (LOL meg…amiright?)
I would allow sins big and small to totally derail me, discourage me, and condemn me. I thought that I needed to feel the crushing weight of all my sins – that that’s what Christianity was all about. God wanted me to really feel crappy when I messed up, just to show that I knew I had blown it.
After growing in true closeness and intimacy with God I can tell you a few things. Some things that I wish someone would’ve told me – or maybe they did, but I didn’t really believe them. First being – I couldn’t have been more wrong about this grace business. I couldn’t have been more wrong about the nature of Christianity. Ya’ll I’m telling you – this is truth. This is the goodness of God. This is the sweetness of our Savior. This is the kindness of the creator.
Not only does God not want me (or you…but this is about me right now) to spiral downhill after a sin – I actually believe it is a scheme of the devil to keep us down. I believe that the devil convinces us that we deserve to feel crappy, we don’t deserve to just repent and then move on…we deserve to sit in our sin, we deserve to let it weigh on us for a long time – and then even when we think we’ve moved on…we deserve to be reminded of said sin at 3:00am when we’re trying to sleep. I believe one of the biggest lies the enemy will tell us is “yeah, I know the Bible says it’s as easy as repentance, but you and I both know that’s not enough…we both know you need to grovel for a bit…we both know that nothing is THAT easy”.
In the past – a sin would take me away from God because I was convinced I was unworthy. But I’ve realized that a sin should take me to the feet of my Father – because he has the grace I need – and he has it right now.
So what does grace right now mean? It means that I don’t have to wait for it, God isn’t giving me the silent treatment or holding a grudge. I don’t have to jump through hoops to be on his good side again. I don’t have to set a reset button and be really good for the next week in order to get grace for my sin from a week ago. I don’t have to wallow in self pity to prove to Him that I really do feel bad. I get to repent, and then I get to receive grace…immediately. I get to walk in freedom right now. Right away. I get to go right back to being hand in hand with my creator.
Sometimes – I believe the aftermath of a sin can make you feel further from God than the sin itself. How you deal with sin matters, what you believe about God’s grace can transform your relationship with Jesus.
I used to not really like sin because it was apparently bad and people said it was bad – so okay – it’s bad. And yet even with this pretty apathetic view towards sin, it would absolutely wreck me for sometimes months at a time. Because I couldn’t get it – I couldn’t be sinless – I couldn’t do anything right.
Now I absolutely hate sin because I love my Father so much. But it doesn’t wreck my relationship with Him, it doesn’t throw me off for long periods of time, it doesn’t ruin me. Every time I go to God with it – He always whispers, “my grace is sufficient for this”. Sometimes if I feel like the sin is too big, I’ll be like, “are you sureeee?? How sure are you about this one?” He still whispers, “yes, Meg, my grace is sufficient for this too”. And sometimes I’m like, “there’s no way…”, and then He laughs and says “who made you God? I determine what my grace covers, and I’ve determined that it covers it all.” You can only argue with God for so long before you feel a little stupid about it.
When I first came back to God I kind of was like – okay, this time my relationship with Him is for real, so yeah, I’ll probably still sin a little bit, but all that big ugly unforgivable sinning? That’s in the past – that’s behind me. And then when I sinned one of those big, ugly, unforgivable sins…I was crushed, absolutely messed up. I remember not spending time with God for a few days because I was just like “oh great, here I go again, I can never get it right, and I never will…God doesn’t want someone who sins like I do. He only wants to deal with the sinners who gossip a little bit after church, and cusses people out in the church parking lot. He only wants to deal with the smaller sinners.” (whatever the heck that is. Hint – not real)
After a few days of wallowing I had a vision that I’ll never forget. God took me by the hand and started walking with me through the forest (He knows His girl, I love the forest). And I remember Him asking me why I hadn’t been hanging out with him, and He told me He missed me. I was floored – “But God, you saw what I did…you miss ME? How could you miss me? I thought you’d want nothing to do with me. I can’t get this right. I’ll never get this right.” And then He said “I know you won’t, that’s why I got it right for you.” Mic drop.
What I’ve experienced is that God doesn’t just forgive and extend grace to the things that we believe deserves grace, He gives grace to those things that HE wants to give grace for – and that’s literally everything when met with repentance. And He doesn’t make us wait for it. This feeling that we deserve to feel crappy, and then sit in the crappiness of sin goes against what Jesus did for us on the cross – it goes against every fiber of the gospel. Your Christian guilt isn’t a sign of your christianity, it isn’t a badge to wear with pride like “look, see how bad I feel that I’ve sinned – that’s how much I love God”, it’s not something you have to walk in. God has already set you free, and he continues to free you at the drop of a hat.