In my last post I began writing about grace. This is an important topic to me because I’ve come to realize that everything about my life is a matter of grace – everything! And when I forget that, a life that’s meant to be a free from care, “lilies and sparrows” affair turns into anxious, compulsive work.
I came to Christ knowing nothing but work. Having grown up in a world of “ungrace” that runs on hustle and muscle, grace has taken a lot of getting used to – like learning the relax and let go art of water skiing someone once described as ‘effortless work’. I didn’t know what to do when there was no work to do! I missed the things that kept me afloat and moving in the world of ungrace; things contrary to grace like performance and achievement.
Does this mean grace and work are at odds with each other? Well it depends on how you view work. To the apostle Paul work isn’t something we do, rather we are the work God does – we’re his “workmanship” (Ephesians 2:10). Grace isn’t God’s substitute for work, it’s an expression of his work. Living by grace doesn’t excuse me from the world of work – making a living, handling responsibilities, doing the best I can, working on my marriage, working on raising my kids and being a good neighbor. Grace isn’t against work, it gives it new meaning. My work is now a response to God’s work of love in my life. It’s “answering love”. All my work, whether in the pulpit, in my garden, or helping in the kitchen, is done in God’s workplace. All my work is intended to be a sharing in God’s work. All my work is a way of bringing God’s goodness to his world. All my work is a way the invisible God makes himself known.
So when it comes to living by grace, its not what I make of myself but what God makes of me. Whatever job I have or whatever task I’m handed can serve as a form for grace as I practice active trust in God. My work becomes my response to God’s grace working in and through my life.
And when I slip back into the ungraceful slog of waterskiing by shear muscle, and my hard work becomes an anxious, compulsive way of making myself a ‘somebody’ or a way of making a lot of money, I have to stop and remind myself that now because of Christ I live in a world of sheer gift where everything has been given by God and that I myself am sheer gift and all I do is a sheer gift expressing this gracious giftedness.