For if, because of one man’s trespass, death reigned through that one man, much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness reign in life through the one man Jesus Christ.

Romans 5: 17

 

As I sit here and look at these words of Paul, I am taken aback by just how differently I seem to operate. It is not that I don’t believe in the concept of grace or that I don’t even think that I accept it and embrace it. However, I do tend to want to take control over the way that it connects to righteousness in my life. Things that simply are, especially ones that are by virtue of what another has done in a manner that eliminates all of my management, make me uncomfortable. My comfort zone is found in the world of plans, actions that develop from those plans, and of check marks after the items are accomplished. The idea of something as significant as my righteousness being received as a gift is troubling.

 

Yet, Paul has expressed it correctly. I might prefer to be able to look carefully at the text and to determine that some great translation error has been made so that God actually intended for us to own this process, at least to take over its completion. But that is not the case. We do not have the ability or the capacity to plan, devise or implement our own righteousness, for we do not have any of it on our own. We are fallen and broken creatures who started out our existence as the pinnacle of God’s creation plan, but we chose to grasp after a form of god-likeness that we could control rather than resting in the assurance of our God-image creation and in the impartation of righteousness that God granted to us as an aspect of an undiminished relationship with Him. We are a lot like the small child who wriggles and struggles to get free of the parent’s hand as they are heading out across a busy street. We desperately want our freedom despite the fact that safety and training in safe living are found in that loving grasp.

 

Christ grants us life. That is the gift of all life. It is not just one aspect or period of living; rather, it is life that spans all of our existence from this moment through eternity. This gift of life includes each and every aspect of who we are and of what we do. There is nothing that is outside of its boundaries. As I accept this gift, I am forced to recognize that it comes to me as a result of God’s grace that, through Christ, bridges the great chasm of division that my sinfulness caused to exist between my depraved self and God’s absolutely righteous being. Christ grants to me a righteousness that is real and that works within me to transform my heart and to restore my mind to that original God-image design. My part in this process is one of surrender, and it requires me to open my deepest places to God’s revealing light of truth. Here the sin that tries to continue to possess my soul is exposed, and here Christ takes my struggling hand and leads me into His peace and victorious rest.

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