I remember this like yesterday because I thought my dad was going to kill me. I was 5, my two older brothers were 7 and 12. We lived in old farm house in Iowa where my dad was a sharecropper. In other words, part of what he farmed he gave to the owner so we could keep living there. He didn't own the place. We didn't have much, an old shower that scared the tar out of me because it was always full of spiders and a galvanized tub that mom would fill with hot water and put in the middle of the kitchen floor for us to take a bath in.
Our rooms were right above the kitchen, which had an old plaster ceiling. I don't know how many times dad told us not to jump on our beds but we did it anyway. One day mom, called us down for lunch and my brothers and I jumped off of our bed and hit the floor at approximately the same time. Then we heard a loud, I mean loud crash, a scream, and moments later footsteps pounding up the stairs. We had shaken the plaster ceiling loose and it crashed down in the kitchen, in a house my parents didn't own, on our lunch, and our mom.
It's only because of grace my dad didn't kill us. Actually, I don't even remember him being all that mad. All I remember was helping clean up, and holding the plaster as dad put a new ceiling back in place. We never jumped off our beds again.
This is grace. We knew the rules, broke the rules, and Dad loved us anyway. What is Christianity without grace? Nothing really. We forget sometimes how deep and reach this is. How grace can change our identity and transform us when we recognize what it truly is.
I remember a young lady that I baptized. She had a very rough life. A lot of it brought on herself. She had slept with boys, gotten caught up into drugs, and ran away from home. When I was describing the process of baptism, new life, and grace, she stopped me. She said, "Wait, you mean if I get baptized, grace would make me a virgin again?" I didn't really answer that right away. Kind of one of those awkward moments, you know? However, as I wrestled with that question I decided the answer was yes. Whatever it was that trapped you before, whatever it was that identified you before, whatever it was that wrecked your life before, grace takes it all away.
Please here the importance of what Paul says when he talks about his own identity because of God’s grace.
“For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without affect. No, I worked harder than all of them - yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me. 1 Corinthians 15:9-10”
Paul recognized he was undeserving to represent Christ. He shouldn’t even be on the field with the other players yet here he was. The author of the majority of our New Testament, missionary to the gentiles, and church planter was only what he was because of the grace of God.
The young lady was permanently physically changed by her actions and the wounds, the memories, and the emotional damage was a very real outcome of her bad decisions. However, spiritually she was new. God counted none of that against her. He was satisfied by the grace delivered to her by the work of his son Jesus. She was what she was because of grace.
When we turn to the world we are accused, when we turn towards Jesus we are given grace.