Photo Credit: Mikaela Hamilton
This month I want to help us prepare for Christmas by reflecting on God’s Grace. If you want an overview of what I’m trying to accomplish, read the first blog post in this series called A Month To Remember God’s Grace.
Below is the Reflection for today.
What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.
- Romans 6:1 – 2
It is a fatal misunderstanding of grace to suppose that grace excuses us from following Jesus. In fact all throughout the New Testament we see that grace bring forgiveness but it also empowers allegiance and obedience to Jesus. In other words grace without discipleship, obedience, and sacrifice isn’t grace at all because grace isn’t just about the forgiveness of sins, it is also about becoming like Jesus.
It is important for us to remember this, because often we see grace in a limited way, meaning for many of us grace is simply the thing that assures us our sins are forgiven. And most certainly grace is the assurance of the forgiveness of sins. But this is only part of grace. For Jesus himself calls the recipients of his grace to pick up their cross and to follow him. In light of this we must see that the only person who can confidently rest in grace is the person who is both forgiven by Jesus and empowered to follow Jesus.
So this Christmas make sure you aren’t using grace to excuse you from following Jesus. Because grace without obedience isn’t grace at all. In the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “Grace is the costly treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. Grace is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. Grace is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him. Grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Grace calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ who said ‘my yoke is easy and my burden is light.’”
Why is it dangerous to think grace excuses us from following Jesus? Is there an area in your life this Christmas where Jesus is calling you to follow him? What will you miss if you don’t follow Jesus?
 The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer