A new bridge is being built in my town. Strangely enough, there is already a perfectly good bridge in the exact same location. At least it gives the appearance of being perfectly good. The construction has been frustrating. It has caused traffic backups, created chaos, confusion and an incredible amount of inconvenience. It takes longer to reach a simple destination. Tempers flare and irritation flows faster and stronger than the river the bridge is covering. Though as residents we know that we will be thankful when it is completed, we are just selfish enough to resent the invasion.
Over the last few years my Christian life has been no different. Being raised in a small denominational church I became very familiar with the bridge of religion, legalism, and performance. As a youngster in the church I was duped into believing that this is the bridge that Christ created for me to walk across, to create relationship with Him. But it's not. The bridge Jesus built was one of grace.
As God has been tearing down the old bridge of legalism and performance in my life, it has been frustrating, created chaos, confusion and an incredible amount of inconvenience. I will even admit I have complained. Embracing this life of grace has not been easy. After all, the laws and standards of man was something I understood and could even contribute to. Since it was in the name of Christ it was hard to see that "my righteousness is as filthy rags" (Isaiah 64:6). While legalism kept me trapped in excellent performance, it also trapped me in the desire to have a part in my own salvation. Failure through legalism made me hang my head in shame not run to the foot of the cross.
As the grace of God leaked more and more into my conversations, some fellow Christians felt the need to inform me that this "grace" I was embracing was no more than permission to sin. At first I was intimidated by this "encouragement". However, God and time have proven faithful.
As I have embraced grace, my relationship with Christ has deepened. He has made me safe in transparency and vulnerability. He has shown me how personally He cares for me and I have never had less desire to sin. (Legalism would never permit me to admit to such earthly battles.) Aahhhhh sweet grace. This gift of grace has brought me into a broad place with Jesus. I can with boldness share that I am not perfect, but rather, in my weakness, utterly dependent upon my Savior. This bridge of grace is now one I willingly run over. And thankful for the continued construction of my Savior, I daily walk into the embrace of grace.......
Acts 20:24 (New International Version)
24However, I consider my life worth nothing to me, if only I may finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me—the task of testifying to the gospel of God's grace.