originally posted 7-29-06
When does grace end and responsibility begin?
I had a friend several years back who made some huge mistakes in her life. She was a beautiful, lively girl who had gotten married seemingly because that was what good Christian girls are supposed to do. Unfortunately, the love she felt for her husband apparently wasn't "enough", whatever that means in our culture today. From what I know, she loved her husband, loved the Lord, but made a poor choice and had an affair. Her husband suspected but never knew of the affair, but suddenly felt this person he had married start to draw away until their marriage was a semblance of the picture of Christ it should've been.
In speaking to my friend long after the divorce finally happened, I started to realize pretty quickly that she left her husband not because she loved the man she had fallen with, or even because she didn't love her husband or because she didn't love the Lord. She left her husband because she didn't understand grace. In her mind, her fall was the unforgivable sin, it was impossible to recover from, either from God or from her loving husband.
Perhaps grace is the hardest thing about Christ for us to truly grasp with our infinitely human minds. For us, there are boundaries that can be crossed; there are places that our forgiveness simply can not run; there is no such thing as constant, unconditional love. Ultimately, we make the mistake of believing that Christ's love is no better than ours.
In Christendom, we hear songs that proclaim that "His grace is enough" and it has almost become a cliche, because we sing the words, but we don't understand what they mean. How is His grace enough for me? When is it enough for me? Why is it enough for me? And how do I possibly live in this grace?
The big question I've always had is this: when does grace end and responsibility begin? I think we as Christians have to struggle with this. I've never had a Christian friend who is honest who doesn't struggle with the balance between grace and responsibility or consequence. When do we cross the line of abusing grace and discarding liberty for freedom?
But in asking these questions, I think that we miss the point of what grace is. Grace is not overlooking sin and poor choices. It is looking those poor choices straight in the face and saying that His grace is enough to get past them. It is being able to forgive without forgetting, because as humans we don't forget. We don't have the ability to seperate it as far as the East is from the West. Yet Christ's grace is so much better than my feeble attempts to explain it. His grace does seperate it from his memory; He doesn't remember my faults.
You see, I'm a lot like my friend. Fortunately, I've never physically "cheated" on my wife. But I've lusted after another woman, which Christ says is the same. There have been several times in my marriage that I have felt like I couldn't continue - not because of anything my wife had done, but because I didn't know how grace could cover my mistakes. Yet somehow all the things I thought could never be overcome have somehow been covered by grace, both by Christ and by my loving wife.
It is when we embrace grace that we truly understand that grace is responsibility...and there is no disconnect between the two.