© May 15, 2018, | Schulter Etyang
We Christians believe in this bonkers, absurd and irrational idea that when non-Christians hear of it, look at us with puzzled faces and some even mock us. It simply does not make sense. The idea is this – Christianity is resting, trusting, and relying on the work of Jesus on our behalf.
Sounds strange, right? It does for Christians, too. More than half of the time, we don’t really get this idea. It is something that we grapple with for the entirety of our lives. However, this is the cornerstone of what our faith is built on. No other faith lays claim to this truth except for the Christian faith.
This idea of the work of another is a thread that runs throughout our sacred scriptures. We see it in the Old Testament and culminates in the New Testament. And continues on past the era of the early Church to the 21stcentury. And will continue when the Christian gets to heaven, beyond the blue skies.
Let me show you this thread in a prayer made by a king.
King Jehoshaphat was surrounded by a great army. This army had come to annihilate his nation. In desperation, he proclaimed a fast and gathered the nation together to ask help from the Lord. (A good idea when you are in a conundrum of such magnitude. It’s a very good idea. Try it sometime)
Now, read a part of his prayer
2 Chronicles 20:7-9 NKJV
Are You not our God, who drove out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel, and gave it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever? And they dwell in it and have built You a sanctuary in it for Your name, saying, If disaster comes upon us—sword, judgment, pestilence, or famine—we will stand before this temple and in Your presence (for Your name is in this temple), and cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear and save.
Check this out
- God drove out those who lived in the land. He fought for them. He turned their enemies against each other.
- God gave them the land because they were the children of Abraham, his friend. Abraham was God’s friend. In ancient culture, friendship wasn’t something that was taken lightly. People made covenants with each other when they entered into friendship. The covenants were such that the children of these friends would benefit. It was generational.
- God heard their prayers and saved them because of his name in the temple.
In this prayer, this king reveals the heart of the Christian faith. He reveals what grace looks like.
What is grace? Grace is resting, trusting, and relying on the work that another has done for you.
Most people when they hear the term grace, they immediately think we are always talking only about forgiveness of sins, God’s love for us, etc. Some even think we are advocating for a life of laziness and self-indulgence – sin without consequences. Nothing could be further from the truth. Grace is so much more than just being forgiven of our sins and enjoying God’s love for us. It is all that and much more.
If the Old Testament people had Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – another. So, who do we have in the New Testament? His name, Jesus.
“Grace is resting, trusting, and relying on the work of Jesus on our behalf”
The gospel Christian believes that everything they believe and do is premised on Jesus and his work on their behalf. They are saved by placing their faith in the work of Jesus on their behalf. They believe that it is Jesus whose work was sufficient to God on their behalf that makes them acceptable. They are blessed because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. Their prayers are answered because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They flourish because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. Their character is changed because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They are joyful and full of laughter because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They are hopeful and positive because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They are generous because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They love because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They do good things because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They serve their communities because of Jesus and his work on their behalf. They fight against injustice because of Jesus and his work on their behalf.
This is what leaves many non-Christians puzzled about the Christian faith. It is counterintuitive.
A non-Christian believes that it all depends on them. That they have to work very hard. That they have to put in the effort. They have to be on the move. They have to make it happen. They just cannot sit around and wait for things to happen. There is no free lunch. No pain, no gain. See the difference? Unfortunately, some Christians have adopted this way of thinking.
The results of resting, trusting, and relying on Jesus and his work on our behalf are staggering – peace of mind, health, laughter and joy, long life, soberness, certainty, boldness, hope, compassion, love, kind, flourish and so much more– and all these we possess as we encounter insurmountable life challenges.
So, when Paul says, I am who I am by the grace of God. (1 Corinthians 15:10 NKJV) He echoes what every Christian believes. We are who we are because of Jesus and his work on our behalf.
That’s what grace looks like