by Pastor Keith Carpenter
Recently a friend of mine asked me write a blog on the topic of Grace. That was a week ago and since that quick technologically facebooked exchange of typed words I have had several divinely appointed opportunities to speak about Grace to individuals who think they understand, and with those who have no clue; including a Muslim man, who doesn’t believe in Grace.
This weekend at the Epic Life Worship Celebration I spoke on the last couple of paragraphs that Paul penned to the Philippians some 2000 years ago, as he sat in a prison cell. He ended this encouragement laden letter with some thoughts on Contentment, which if understood correctly has nothing to do with Comfort. Comfort deals with how we respond, positively and negatively, to circumstances and the allowing of circumstances to control our emotions, whereas Contentment deals with our outlook on life regardless of circumstances. It is within the walls of Contentment where we discover that we live in the best house on the block, regardless of what the house looks like; it’s where we learn we drive the greatest car on the road; where we realize we have the best job; where we feel fully satisfied in all that we have and do.
Seeking Comfort is all about how we feel and feelings come and go and must be continually serviced. Being Comfortable is a fleeting temporary experience, which forces us to buy, seek, and strive for the next thing that will make us feel Comfortable. Our world thrives on the next thing. We buy, we’re fulfilled temporarily, we buy again and the cycle continues and we are never fully satisfied. Feeling Comfortable is alright as long as we are also alright with feeling unComfortable; it is in this understanding of Comfort where we discover Contentment and can see and experience true joy and beauty and love.
I write about Contentment because the etymology of the words Contentment and Satisfaction are closely related and have a lot to do with Grace. Content = “Satisfied with what one has or is.” Satisfy = “To fulfill desires or demands, to give full contentment to.”
And this is where Grace enters the dialog in such a beautifully fulfilling way…
The only way to truly understand Grace is by relating it to what Jesus did on the cross. Grace cannot be fully understood in any way in the secular society. Christ lived on earth for one purpose; to die on the cross as a payment for the sins of mankind. Humans cannot stand in the presence of a holy perfect God because of sin. Sin and Perfection cannot share the same space. Humans are sinful and the penalty for sin is death. Adam and Eve were not content or satisfied with 99.9% of the Garden of Eden, so they felt a sort of disComfort and to fulfill that disComfort they sinned against God. From that Sin humans have been saddled with the guilt of sin, a debt that we cannot pay. (We try, but no matter how much we try; as a sinful being we cannot get ourselves to a perfect state.) Something has to Satisfy our debt. So Jesus, in his perfection, died on the cross as our substitution, to pay the price for sin. In his death he fulfilled, Satisfied, the debt for all humans. He paid the price fully.
We are offered a gift, a free gift. The gift of a Satisfied debt.
A definition for Grace is; “Getting something we do not deserve.” We deserve death; to pay the price for our own sin. If we accept the gift offered to us we receive life; the something we do not deserve. We receive Forgiveness for our debt. Our debt is forgiven or Satisfied.
As a Christian I no longer have to look for ways to Satisfy the debt of sin. It was Satisfied in Christ’s death. I can now be Content. (This is not saying that I will cease to grow; that’s another subject.)
So, Grace…A free gift, that we do not deserve and cannot afford or acquire on our own, but is offered to us anyway, so that upon our acceptance, our debt may be satisfied fully in the view of the perfect Holy God.