Look through your own lenses

Published 12:55 pm Thursday, June 16, 2016

“But by the grace of God I am what I am.” — 1 Corinthians 15:10

In the first half of this verse in Paul’s corrective letter to the Corinthians Apostle Paul with transparency and humility gives us extraordinary insight into the grace of God as a force in the life of the believer.

Grace as a biblical term can be difficult to define without an understanding of the whole counsel of scripture. It is a term that has lost much of its meaning today outside of the church and even within the church. Chiefly, because we don’t give or operate in grace. It is as with most things, it’s difficult to give what you haven’t first received.

Paul with great eloquence, yet, without prejudice has now for 14 chapters been writing to a church full of strife, division, heresy, immorality and lawlessness.

Writing with plain words correction-specific to the needs of the body, he’s addressing how well we would do to have a dose of that in this hour. Then in this transparent moment, the teacher teaches a bit deeper that might be seen at first glance. While correcting those he loves, those who have behaved and spoken in ways contrary to the truth of a gospel of regeneration. He reminds them of his story.

You see, Paul is not just telling us his story, he is inviting us to look at our own through new lenses with new perspective to explore the elements of grace. The gospel is all about redemption, from worthless to worthy, from murderer to missionary, by the blood of Christ alone.

Grace didn’t cover our sin ,it destroyed it — literally killed it. Jesus Christ was and is the grace of God, walking the Earth setting free what He alone was and he has righteousness to judge, yet, never overlooking the authenticity of the individual in their plight.

When we try and dress our own story up to make it clean and palatable, we rob the world of an opportunity to see Christ as the one who is limitless in ability to reform any clay into something beautiful. It was the merciful staying of God’s hand that preserved Paul, and as he looks back he doesn’t deny it. He now can admit his fault, saying, “My eyes are opened by grace, and this is my story, all of it. I am what I am.”

Grace, not only shows us that our story is His story, Jesus’ story. The story of His love and forgiveness against all reason, setting us free from the shame of our dead sinful state is something.

The statement can be read two ways. Grace is also right where Paul stands in that moment. He has been empowered to be used by Christ. To be writing the very letter they are reading, Paul says not only was it grace that “allowed me to see who I was. It empowers me to be who I am. God’s gifting in grace made me who I am today. But by the grace of God I am what I am.”

If we, as believers and as a community, are to present Jesus to the world as Savior, must champion His grace. We do so in two ways. One, we stop defining each other by our past and we champion grace when we choose to let our history be told through the lens of our present. We celebrate that any and all can be used by Him. Secondly, we don’t disregard the reality of how lost we are without His empowerment to reveal to us and bring us out of what we can’t gain victory from on our own.

Grace is empowerment, and we champion grace when we tell the whole story as it should be told. Jesus did it all. I didn’t deserve it, but He did and is doing it still.

We say simply that was me and this is me, and it’s all by the grace of God.

David Malcom is the pastor of Trinity Gospel Church. He can be contacted at davidmalcom75@gmail.com.