During Worship I class on Wednesday here at John Brown University, Professor Jen Edwards said something that caught my attention. I immediately wrote it down in my notes and have been thinking it over ever since.
“When you own who you are, grace becomes more real.”
How many of us go throughout our lives as Christians wearing a perpetual mask of “having it all together?” We all do it at some point in some way. I know I have been guilty of this many times. In fear of judgment from our peers, we hide the realities of who we are and who we have been. We feel like we have to put on a façade of perfection. …Because that’s what good Christians do, right?
Often, in trying to conceal our flaws from everyone around us, we also buy into the lie. We deceive ourselves into thinking we aren’t really that sinful. We think we can handle what life throws at us on our own. We think we remain unaffected and unscarred by the effects of our sin and the sin of others.
And we couldn’t be more wrong.
The unpleasant truth of the matter is that when we dig down deep to the roots of this ever-branching yet hollow tree, budding with leaves of false beauty, what we uncover is fear and pride. We fear the opinions of man over the declaration of God. We attempt to find our identity in how others see us or even how we see ourselves instead of in the saving grace of Christ crucified. And we are so prideful, that we can’t let others know we are broken and sinful, desperately in need of the power of the gospel at every moment and turn in life.
The gospel – that’s where the focus needs to be. When our focus is on the gospel of Christ, the filth of our past and the brokenness of our present are not only stripped of all shame but are also shaped into a strong testament to the grace of God—that God could save “even me.”
When we see ourselves, and allow others to see us, as the helpless sinners we are, only then is the grace of God able to be seen as the incredible gift it is. Paul Washer has stated it this way: “As we grow in the knowledge of our weakness, salvation by grace grows from a mere theological construct into our greatest reality and hope.” By understanding that we had no hope of saving ourselves from the deserved punishment of our sins, we more fully understand the redemption found in Christ as a gift that was in absolutely no way due us. In accepting ourselves for who we are in Christ—with all the bumps, flaws, and baggage we carry into the equation—we see the grace of God with new clarity and are able to sing,
“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound that saved a wretch like me.”